Alissa Clark is one of over 100 local artisans who show their art on Calle Guanajuato throughout the summer, behind the Plaza, weekends at the Lithia Artisans Market. Known by her friends as Ali, she is a potter who displays her creations throughout the Pacific Northwest and makes Ashland her home with her 12 year old son, Ben.
We did an interview with Ali to learn more about her art and inspiration. This interview will be part of an ongoing series which will spotlight local Rogue Valley Artisans. Remember to come out and meet them in person at the Lithia Artisans Market, open every weekend April – November.
How long have you been creating your art form?
Ali: For about fifteen years…..I started as a jeweler, took my first clay class in 1995 and…here I am.
What is your main inspiration when you make your craft?
Ali: Everything I’ve ever seen. I grew up in a house with artist parents…I am a third generation matrilinear artist. My home was full of Knoll furniture, and other modern lamp works, architecture and art. I toured and lived in Mexico City when I was younger, then I planted myself firmly in SW Arizona for 20 years. I am a conglomerate of all I’ve seen. There is inspiration EVERYWHERE.
Where did you learn your craft?
Ali: I have always absorbed art, but got an undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff), and a Masters of Fine Arts from University of Arizona, (Tucson).
How long have you lived in the Ashland area?
Ali: Off and on for eight years. I toured this area about 15 years ago and knew I wanted to be here. I came, then defected to Portland for a spell, but I’m back to stay.
Tell us something about you that has nothing to do with your art form.
Ali: I can’t snap OR whistle. I am very easily amused. I love reading. I am fascinated with assemblage art and rusty objects. I love margaritas. I love when people tell good stories. Bikes are amazing, and should be used whenever possible. Waking up by a river, with coffee, is living well.
What is your favorite time of the year and why?
Ali: Winter Solstice. It’s the promise of the return of light. My bones take this very seriously, as my years in the Southwest have instilled a need for sun upon my Irish bones. Here in the damp and cloudy fall-winter of the Northwest, nothing sings to me like the return of light, be it ever-so-slowly.
What do you like to do when you are not creating or selling your art?
Ali: Learning my new mountain bike, being in my 12-year olds’ world, gardening!
How often do you sell at the Lithia Artisans Market?
Ali: Only on Saturdays…a Mom just can’t be everywhere. We need a day of home, laundry and homework on Sundays. Also, as summer progresses, I do a lot of art shows regionally, so I can’t spread my time/supply too thin by selling all the time.
I guess the synopsis is that I LOVE to be there with my great artisan friends, but I’m sporadic as we get into summer.
Where else do you sell your art (other fairs, festivals, etc…)?
Ali: Scottsdale Fine Art Festival, Whole Earth Festival (Davis, CA), Ceramic Showcase (Portland, OR), Utah Arts Festival (SLC, UT), Oregon Country Fair, Fremont Solstice Fair (Seattle), Mill Valley Fine Arts Festival, and Clayfolk, here in Medford in November (that’s my favorite show).
Why did you choose to become an artisan?
Ali: Genetics and obsessive abstract doodling. What else would I have done?
Are you a full time artisan, or do you have a separate career?
Ali: Even when I should be sleeping, I make art. Nothing else would ever be as satisfying, or as freeing.
Where do you like to shop?
Ali: It’s my job as an object maker to peruse ALL that mass-consumer society offers. That said, I never go into malls, but DO peruse a lot of catalogs, websites and gallery sites.
Why should people buy your art?
Ali: Because it’s random. I just make what I like and hope people will love it. (It’s worked so far…)
Briefly critique modern consumer society, what is wrong or right with that model?
Ali: Disposable things aren’t ok. Please, extract them from my life. I WANT to be the mug you use first in the morning, the bowl you can’t live without.