Ceramics Monthly: What was your initial reaction when Gaya Ceramic Arts Center (CAC) first contacted you to take over as the new managing art director in Bali?
Eva Champagne: I felt no hesitation when asked to join the team. My esteem for the company grows from a relationship going back several years. In 2013 I came to Bali and Gaya CAC as an artist in residence, then returned twice, in 2016 and 2018, to lead workshops, so I already knew how great they were to work with. Any reluctance I felt pertained only to the leaving, not the arriving—saying goodbye to my quiet, rural life in Montana and the friends I have there. But moving back to Asia, playing a key role in a thriving international art center, and working with and for people that I not only admire but also like a whole lot; all these are truly dreams come true.
CM: What will be your day-to-day role at Gaya CAC?
EC: Every bit of Gaya CAC programs and facilities are the result of ideas and their actualization by co-founder and creative director, Hillary Kane. The center’s success is proof of her vision, resourcefulness, tenacity, and generosity. I’m here because Gaya is growing, and I share Hillary’s outlook for its bright future. Hillary’s primary focus is necessarily shifting to strategic planning; the big picture, shaping the future of Gaya’s increasingly impactful position within the arena of international ceramics. My role is part facilitator of programming and day-to-day operations, part mentor, part host and tour guide, and part boots-on-the-ground leader. I look forward to implementing some creative programming to augment what is already in the works.
CM: What challenges and/or opportunities does this move and new phase in your life pose to your current art making process?
EC: I’ve moved often and made work in so many different places, under all kinds of circumstances. Challenge always equals opportunity for discovery and learning. I arrived at Gaya already familiar with the clays and the kilns, so the technical learning curve hasn’t been too steep. The impact of the environment on my practice can’t be overstated: the island landscape, flora, fauna, the climate, the culture and language, food, daily interactions with people—these add up to an entirely fascinating reference library for expression. During my first several months here I’ve already felt tremendous freedom to try new things in the studio, and a lot of credit must go to our strong workshop program. Our two-week intensive workshops bring some of the best ceramic artist-instructors in the world here, and it’s a major perk of the job to learn alongside the participants when I can, to think about making in new, stimulating ways. I may be on the far side of the planet in relation to the US, but the ceramics world comes to Gaya’s studio. So, I cannot say precisely how my work will reflect this new milieu, except that it is already exciting and even surprising me.