Sometimes, I think working with clay is like riding a horse. If you’re trying to do something tricky on a horse, you’d better find a way to communicate using the horse’s language. Asking will almost always get you further than telling and it’s the same with clay – if you’re trying to do something tricky with clay, you had better listen to it and find a way to hear what it’s willing to give you.
– Bob Shay
Bob Shay is an artist who has always been obsessed with the material quality of clay. Originally from Brooklyn New York, Shay grew up with a backyard of apartment buildings and city street grids. It was only when Shay moved away from the city and saw the world through travel, that he began to fall in love with the landscape (and the anthropology) of rural America. His current work reflects the dissimilarity (or rift) between these two experiences and ways of seeing.
In his ceramic platters, Shay captures the feel of landscape through a connection with a sense of place, the passing time of geology, and the beautiful fragility of the environment. It is important to him that the objects he makes connect with people on an intuitive level especially those who have, “lived their lives with an honest and perhaps intimate connection to the planet.”
Bob Shay returned to working full time in the studio after 24 years in arts administration. In the past decade, he has been artist in residence at numerous residencies including the International Ceramics Symposium, Czech Republic, Red Lodge Clay Center, Montana, and the Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, Montana.
His work is held in the permanent collections of Museum of Decorative Arts, Prague, Czech Republic, the Ceramics Research Center, Arizona State University, Tempe, Taideteollisuus Museo, Helsinki, Finland, and numerous other public and private collections.