Michael Ash has always had a love for art.
From drawing on the walls as a child to taking classes at the University of North Georgia, art has been a part of his entire life. Now 23 years old and set to graduate college in the fall, the Gainesville man is looking to turn his passion into a profession.
And he seems to be on that path. His artwork has been featured in festivals in Clarksville as well as Crush Fest at the Yonah Mountain Vineyards. His pieces have been in student shows at UNG. And just last week some of his works were showcased at the Helen Arts and Heritage Center where he volunteers.
This July, he will provide therapeutic art services to veterans and teach family pottery classes at the center.
But before his classes start, the artist took some time to answer questions about his work and his future plans.
Question: What is the focus of your artwork?
Answer: My main focus is functional ceramics such as tableware, but I also do a lot of abstract paintings. The abstract paintings are mostly for myself, however, I’m not really focused on trying to get that out there and selling it. That’s kind of just more of a hobby for me.
I’m actually in the process of building a studio this summer and maybe doing some tableware designs and stuff like that. That’s where I’m at right now.
Q: Why did you choose that particular medium?
A: Well honestly, in school I have a requirement for a studio art minor, and I wasn’t really planning on taking a ceramics course. I just signed up because I needed the class, and I kind of fell back in love with working with clay. I started making pottery when I was in the eighth grade. I believe that’s when I took my first lesson, so it kind of just provoked that passion. I didn’t really seek out to do this as a career choice, it just kind of happened.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration from? What inspires your art?
A: As far as my pottery, I’m really inspired by a lot of the traditional folk pottery. I mean, we live in one of the most well-known areas for folk potters. I guess in a broader sense, I’m inspired by nature. A lot of artists are inspired by nature, but those are really my two main things. I really want to focus on just really well-crafted and well-designed pieces that people can use in their everyday households.
Q: Can you tell me about your involvement with the Helen Arts and Heritage Center?
A: They’re really a great organization. I’ve been kind of interested in the therapeutic practices of art and the board of directors there felt a need for providing therapeutic art services to veterans in the area because there’s not really any sort of outlet for that. So I heard about that from one of the board members and really wanted to get involved … because I thought it was a great cause. I taught a painting class a couple weeks ago and that went pretty well. They already offer a lot of wheel-throwing pottery courses, but I’m looking to teach a family course on the weekends and the veteran services starts July 14 and will meet every Tuesday for the next six weeks.
Q: What’s next for you? What do you want to see become of your art career?
A: Well, I’m really looking forward to finishing up my last couple courses this fall and then pursuing my own business venture with tableware design. That is really my goal at this point, launching that business and getting everything going. I’m hoping by early fall to have my first open house for my studio. That’s kind of my deadline that I’m giving myself for now.