Conversations with an Artist: Austyn Taylor
We discovered Austyn through one of Poet and/the Bench's customers who suggested we meet her and learn more about her figurative art. Austyn works across sculptural ceramics and drawings on paper. Her exhibition experience is vast and she participates in artist-in-residency and teaching programs all over the world. We were captivated by her imaginative personification of animist history, especially her modern and refined pieces that in their restraint exude a graphic quality. "Toro" was created specifically with Poet and/the Bench in mind and he is so stinken cute, we're excited he found a home! We're now working to find new owners for Sneaky Duck–the pop culture references, the gravitas and that swagger is covetable!
Describe the moment you realized art fed your soul.
My earliest memories at 5 were of wanting to be an artist and (a New York person'd idea of) a cowgirl. Turned out I was terrified of horses so I went full artist at a young age.
What themes do you pursue in your art?
I am a humanist, optimist and I suppose, a humorist, too. I make work that is strong and bold while balancing honesty and humility.
Connoisseur, 2016, Sold
Tell us about what influences the direction for your ceramic and drawing collections.
I am the result of watching too many cartoons in the 80s, patriotism and Unitarian Universalist world peace propaganda. I make a variety of work, but always think to reference beautiful contemporary design, art history and ancient animist/mystical/spiritual works of humanity. I am pursuing multi dimensional work which works for multiple levels of human experience. The work is accessible for people without a background in art history and esoteric mysticism but also has Easter eggs (hidden meaning or a special discovery) for people into Gilgamesh, Egyptology and Gertie the Dinosaur.
Sneaky Duck, 2018, Available at Poet and/the Bench
How has your work developed over time?
Early on I studied as an illustrator and focused on mind/body philosophy. I came to clay as a solution for teaching difficult middle school students as a charter school art educator in Denver, CO. Later, I was a technical assistant for Doug Jeck at Haystack Mountain School in Maine, which was a real turning point in sophistication for my sculptural work. Honestly, my best work is happening right now and I am very happy for an opportunity to show in America's best state, holy California!
Toro, 2018, Sold
What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?
This one wood tool that I got 8 years ago from my old teaching gig in CO. It does everything I need. It is getting worn from years of clay use so I might need to handcraft a new one soon...
Do you collect anything?
I used to collect lovely rocks that spoke to me on the trail. Being an artist full time has required me to reduce the amount of physical stuff I own. I do have a few small works by awesome artists I admire that I got through assistant-ships or trade.
Forthright, 2018, Available
What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen, read, watched or listened to recently?
Robert Sapolsky’s Youtube lecture series on Human Behavioral Biology at Stanford is pretty rad as well as "Maps of Meaning" a University of Toronto lecture series that features a 33 hour psychoanalytical analysis of Disney's Pinocchio. Working in the studio gives me time to listen to a variety of lecturers: David Bohm, Terence McKenna, Marshall Rosenberg, Alan Watts and others more or less controversial.
What advice would you give to your younger self about your artistic journey?
Haha I don't think I would have listened to me if I talked to younger me... So much of who I am has been shaped by who I was. I don't think I would be making this work if I wasn't me.
Lucky us, animals that imagine being human.
Stand, 2016, Sold
Traveling to Denmark? Austyn has work, including Forthright at Guldagergaard Studio Gallery in Skælskør and we'd be happy to connect you. Want Sneaky Duck in your home? Please come by or get in touch, we'd love to know this Sneaky is well cared for.
For the love of animals,
Bonnie & Jeffrey