I first heard about Morgan Peck through a friend, but recently got the chance to look some more into her work. Her ceramics are joyful, colourful and beautiful. From sculptures to vases there is no end to her craftsmanship. I had the chance to meet her for a short interview at the Grand Central Market, downtown Los Angeles.
Hi Morgan, let's just start from the beginning… Tell me a little but about yourself.
Born and raised in Washington state, I grew up across the street from the water. Every summer was spent sailing with my family in the Canadian Desolation Sound. My dad was a wood worker and our house was constantly under construction, remodeling the house was a family effort. He would ask me what I thought of how he was designing the second story and what tile I liked for the bathroom. My mom was a high school art teacher, she would always have my sister and I draw a still life if we said we were bored, also she was always trying out new projects and techniques on us before giving them as assignments. We were always doing things like making handmade paper, decorating pysanka eggs, (Ukrainian method with wax dye resist), pine needle baskets or painting designs on furniture.
When did you start doing ceramics and how did you get into it?
My introduction to clay was in middle school, I remember making a small bear. I took every ceramics class twice in high school, I would eat my lunch in the the classroom so I could work on my projects more, even taking clay home with me to make stuff. I only threw on the wheel once or twice, but never got into it. I was always hand building. When it came time to choose what to major in at art school, I picked photography. I didn't stick it out, photography was not for me. Four years later, I got back into clay after I moved to LA in 2009. The stress of a full time job made me desperate to connect to something that could help me realize what the heck I wanted to really do, so I took ceramics classes at Barnsdall Art Park. Right away I remembered what I was missing.
Where do you find inspiration?
Architecture mostly and large scale sculptors like Anthony Caro, Pierre Székely and Pietro Cascella. Also, the freeways in LA are really interesting to me, I like to see how all the engineering works, how things are suspended and weight is carried.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just finished making pen jars, trays and paper weights for a stationary shop in London, Choosing Keeping. I am also starring a collaboration with a florist to make vases and planters.
What would be a regular day in the Morgan Peck studio?
My studio is in my backyard, so I usually just walk out there after breakfast, put on a Michael Connelley book on tape and start making slabs. I like to listen to Connelly's detective novels because of the methodical pace, it helps me to slow down. I can tend to be a little spastic and distracted, trying to make too many things at once, so anything to bring it down a notch. After I have a few slabs I start making things in multiples, like 5 vases, 15 sculpture bases, then 10 or 20 handles or parts, let them dry a little outside, then just see if I can make something exciting out of it.
What's your favorite thing that you've ever designed?
I always come back to a small sculptural wall shelf. It's made out of clay, with strips that connect to make curved and angular shapes, it looks kinda like a maze, when it's flat on a table. When it's mounted on the wall, the shapes make little shelves and cubby holes. I like it because it uses the flexibility of the clay and also it's strength, for an object that usually isn't ceramic. It has it's own sort of preciousness to it, on it's own, but it does not have to be just that, it can be useful too, at least for your small objects.
What's your favorite place in L.A. to hangout?
The Venice boardwalk is one. I saw the movie Mixed Nuts, which takes place on the boardwalk, when I was a kid. Juliette Lewis was just so cool in it, she owned a vintage shop and I was really getting into old clothes, it was sunny even though it was December in the movie, and I was growing up in the wettest place in the US. It's really a sort of silly movie when I watch it now, but at the time the idea of an unrelated family of people, who are different, yet take care of each other, was totally appealing. When I'm there it's like a childhood dream came true, the street performers, skateboarders, even the community of homeless, the ocean, there is something about the place that is quintessential L.A. to me. And the weather is always nice.