Colby Charpentier

Clay is accessible, abundant, and present in everyday life. It’s a material that we contact daily through tableware, sparkplugs, microchips, architecture— it’s part of nearly every culture’s creation story. We all know something about clay. That baseline of experience is an opportunity for me to put clay in ironic and compromising situations.
My studio research is centered around intentionally misunderstanding the world so that I can break the frame and reintroduce myself to what I know. Knowing how something works doesn’t mean I shouldn’t take it apart, anyway. By asking clay (and the vessel) to do the things that we think it shouldn’t— I find new possibilities. Sometimes that means investigating historical coincidences e.g. decorative prunts show up in both 5th century BC Zhou Dynasty bells and 14th century German glassware. And sometimes that means asking clay to act like contrasting materials such as glass, concrete, wood, steel, paper, rubber. 
I prioritize research over producing product. While a lot of my work uses the vessel format, I’m not interested in making the same pot twice. I use an iterative approach so I can get all the “what-ifs” out into space, and then deal with them. Once I’ve framed a question, it’s time to hit the studio and build a process to investigate it. The process of making is how I ask and answer questions. The objects I produce are a residue of this process.