What Places Have Inspired Your Work?

What Places Have Inspired Your Work?

Published on Monday, May 9, 2016. This article appears in the April/May 2016 issue of American Craft Magazine.
Department Voices
Author Staff
Sarah Briland Problematica Series

Pieces from Sarah Briland’s Problematica series; Photo: Terry Brown

About four years ago, I felt really fed up with life in New York and moved to a cabin in Arkansas with a good friend. It was completely secluded. We didn’t know anybody. But that isolation allowed me time to play, to really hone my technique. Before Arkansas, I really wasn’t creating much. It was such a push forward. ~Aly Barohn, fiber artist, Denver

Right now I live in Amish Country in Pennsylvania, so I’m inspired by the aesthetic of Amish farms, by the contour lines you can see from a hilltop, by hex signs on the side of barns, and the quilts here. There’s a quilt pattern called tumbling blocks, which I first saw in nature, on a fish skeleton, and now see everywhere. ~Dana Bechert, ceramist, Nottingham, PA

I grew up in Oklahoma, where the landscape is very simple, just one flat horizon line. But the view changes. There are big skies, intense storms, and constantly shifting colors. And I think that aesthetic comes out in my work. Another visual influence is travel. My family goes on these superlong road trips, and there’s a very meditative quality to each one. It’s almost hypnotic. ~Meg Callahan, designer-quilter, Seattle

The place where I grew up, in the Black Mountains in the south of France, is a big influence. It is very windy, very rugged terrain. And pretty isolated. I am also inspired by studying ocean currents and wind maps, by the refractions found in ocean lakes, and by my amazing surroundings in Washington state. ~Armelle Bouchet O’Neill, glass artist, Seattle

Growing up in West Virginia, I was inspired by the karst landscape pocked with caverns, mines, and mysterious voids. Later, my work in geology and historic preservation focused my experiences of surveying the landscape and continues to inform my artwork. For the Problematica series, I collected disposable man-made materials from my environment and cast them in glass to create speculative future fossils of our plastic age. ~Sarah Briland, artist, Richmond, VA

I’m originally from Japan. When I go back, I like to visit the Meiji Jingu in Tokyo. It’s not that old. But it was built (and now restored) in the same way shrines have always been built, for hundreds of years. No machines, just hand tools. It’s really impressive to see those techniques still in use. ~Shin Okuda, furniture designer, Los Angeles