Red Deer artist channels big questions into small details

Submitted photo. Visual artist Dawn Candy works on a new piece in her studio in Red Deer. Candy will be in Prince Albert this weekend for an artist talk and a two-day pottery workshop.

At one point, Dawn Candy wasn’t eager to talk about her pottery, but after roughly 15 years of creating she’s finally gotten used to it.

On Friday, Candy will be in Prince Albert giving an artist talk about pottery and ceramics at the Margo Fournier Arts Centre. The Red Deer, Alta. resident said she’s looking forward to the talk, something she couldn’t always say.

“I wasn’t always particularly comfortable doing these talks initially,” Candy said. “They’re kind of expected a lot of the time, so you do just get used to doing them, but I do actually enjoy talking to people who are passionate about ceramics, or even just a little bit interested. It’s a nice way to give people a little bit of a window into why I make the choices that I do.”

Candy took an unusual path to the pottery world. She studied analytic philosophy and religious studies at the University of Lethbridge, and began taking community pottery classes for fun after graduation.

She loved the experience so much she went back to school, this time to study Visual Art at Red Deer College. She later opened Little Sister Pottery in Red Deer, and began teaching community art classes while also creating new pieces.

For Candy, philosophy, religion, and pottery are a perfect fit.

“Ceramics is a really big field and it allows you to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of critical thinking,” she explained. “I would say philosophy specifically encourages and develops that style of critical thinking, of coming at problems from different angles and really trying to think your way through in a systematic way from one step to the next. That has been really beneficial for me in working in ceramics.

“The religious studies part? I’m just interested in big ideas and I really like that working in pottery allows me to express different concepts and different ideas in a tactile medium.”

Friday’s talk will focus on the inspiration behind her work. Candy draws on nature for many of her designs, such as grass blowing in the wind or melting ice and snow.

She plans to share the thought process that goes into choosing designs and surface imagery, while talking a little bit about technique too. Technique will be a much bigger focus on the weekend, when Candy leads pottery workshops at the Arts Centre on Saturday and Sunday.

Workshop participants don’t need a lot of experience, but Candy said they should know the basics.

“It is for people who have some experience with ceramics,” she explained. “It doesn’t have to be a vast amount, but I’m not going to be talking about very, very basic concepts with clay. I’m going to be talking about individual surface design techniques, and then opportunities for layering those techniques in creative ways that allow people to come up with their own expression for their own pieces.”

Candy’s artist talk is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday, April 12 at the Margo Fournier Centre. The Pottery Detail Workshop runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The event is sponsored by the Prince Albert Council for the Arts, SK Arts, the P.A. Potters Guild, and the City of Prince Albert.

The workshop costs $100 to attend.

@kerr_jas •