Ceramic Arts Network:Did you come to pottery from a different career? Tell us about your journey and how your previous career informs your ceramic career.
Luke Metz: I am retired and love living in Sedona, Arizona–this is a stimulating and wildly beautiful place. I have lived in a number of places, including: New York City (where I grew up and attended college), Washington state, New Jersey, Colorado, and Wisconsin. My work history is equally diverse. I have built elevator controllers, repaired electronic equipment, serviced Xerox machines, programmed computers, designed computer systems, did commercial real estate development, had various positions with Lands’ End, and worked for the U.S. Census. When I was younger, I stimulated my right brain by participating in extreme sports including out-of-bounds skiing, whitewater kayaking, motorcycle riding, and lead rock climbing.
I have always loved art and continue to be fascinated by it. There was so much to explore in this regard in New York City and in my extensive travels. During my work years, I took some stone sculpture and pottery classes, which I loved. I retired about eight years ago and within a year was feeling restless. Since extreme sports were no longer an option for right-brain stimulation, I decided to revisit pottery and have been hooked since. I have won several awards for my ceramic art.
I love working on the pottery wheel and have refined my throwing skills over the years. My adventurous and restless spirit has moved me to experiment with diverse pottery techniques and types of firings. Fortunately, there seems to be much to explore, and after seven years I still feel excited and inspired by creating ceramic art.
In the last seven years, I have worked with a number of teachers. Some of them are very well known. Their tutelage has been invaluable in the development of my art. I do continue to feel challenged by working in my 96-square foot studio.
I have reached a point with my art where I am no longer excited by simply making pots. Fortunately, there is something exciting and intriguing for me in altering well thrown pots. This approach is giving me a chance to integrate my stone sculpture experience with my ceramic art. As with all my art, this altering process is evolving as I delve more deeply into it. My “post bashing” seems to bother my wife though. She wonders why (and this is a valid question) I would “destroy” a perfectly good pot. I love the movement of these types of pieces, the whimsy, and the unexpected. I want to invite people to explore my pieces–view them from different angles, to look inside…I see my current direction as moving from craftsmanship to art. The two are not mutually exclusive, and I still love to make functional ware.
I am thrilled to make money doing what I love. Being retired, my primary focus though is on self-fulfillment. My minimum criteria from a financial point of view are to not place a burden on my retirement funds. Part of making ceramics a viable obsession for me has included learning how to sell my work and learning website development. I love learning so this was a nice, added benefit.
To see more of Luke’s work, visit his website http://redrockraku.com