Meet Artist-in-Residence Peter Barbor


Tell us about your background.

I was born and raised in the greater Pittsburgh area. Large swathes of my childhood were spent in the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, and I attribute my time there as one the major catalysts for why I make art. I have always held an affinity for mythology, and the Carnegie’s Halls of Sculpture and Architecture definitely jump-start my imagination with all of their plaster casts from antiquity.  In 2010 I received my BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in Ceramics. Truth be told, before majoring in clay, I was never much of a 3d artist. Jump to the present, and my involvement with dirt of all kinds has simply expanded. I just received my MFA from the University of Washington’s 3D4M department. While studying there, I became intimate with many other materials.


How did you find out about the Anderson Ranch Arts Center?

During my undergraduate studies at RISD, I learned about Paul Soldner.  His legacy is pretty inseparable from the Ranch, and so I became aware of the residency.


What is your favorite part about the Anderson Ranch so far?

Beyond the spectacular facilities and interdisciplinary aspects of the residency program, my favorite part is the people.  I imagine a lot of the friendships I have made here will last a long time if not a lifetime.


What inspires you to create art?

This is a loaded question.  A simple answer would be my impulsiveness. I think I would descend into mental illness without being able to make.  A longer answer would rely on my obsession with history and mythology.  I think I “fell into” clay because it embodies so much history. For such a flexible material, it’s embarrassingly earnest.  Clay offers a reflexive view of history, and in a time where we may be struggling to reconcile notions of identity on not just personal levels, but national, maybe even global levels, I think ceramics can really demonstrate our plural past.  It’s both a material common denominator, as most cultures developed some use of ceramic technology, but also a material that manifests in a rich and diverse number of ways. Making a whole lot of something out of nothing is a foundational part of imaginary play as a child.  It’s a part of storytelling, and the subject of most creation myths.  I am always striving to make the old new again, and to do that I make a lot out of nothing, dirt. I can’t imagine anything more fulfilling.


How has your work evolved?

If this question points to how my work has changed at the Ranch, I think it may be a little too soon to truly know.  I have been experimenting with paper clay here more than I ever have in the past.  The plasticity of clay is its defining feature, but I am interested in how to trick the material to work in other ways.  To approach this problem at the Ranch, I have been formulating my clay as paper clay slip, which extends when I can work with it and what it can do.  I can let my work dry out completely, crack, and coat crude armatures without worrying about shrinkage, and nothing seems to be a deal breaker like it would be with conventional clay bodies. Lots of artists have figured out paper clay, but I haven’t tried my hand at it too much until here.  I’m excited because it’s allowing me to reconcile my ceramic roots with what I began to do during graduate school.  Who knows where it will go…


How can we find you on social media and the web?

Instagram:  @peter.barbor


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