November 2, 2016 | Alumni Success Story

The Success of Living Behind the Potter’s Wheel

A successful career comes in many forms and Maja Padrov’s has just begun. Maya’s architectural pottery will make you look….with its straight linear lines and angles, juxtaposed with round applied details and incredible textured glazes that just ask your hands to caress and experience her work with all your senses.

Both a New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD) alumna and Ceramics Instructor, Maja’s work has not only been through the literal fire, but her career is figuratively on fire this year.  Most recently Maja and her work will be travelling to the SOFA, Sculptural Objects Functional Art and Design show in Chicago 2016.  Her work has been featured in several prestigious Canadian shows this past year; currently included in a show in Italy, and her greatest accomplishment to date was the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale in July 2016.  This show is considered to be one of the foremost significant ceramic events in the world.

These are incredible results for an artist who moved to Fredericton in 1997 and took one night course in studio pottery, and then another, and then transitioned into a full time student in Ceramics at NBCCD.  Maja says “I had the time of my life learning something that I never paid attention to before. Hands on approach, making objects, and a lot of research, it was just the perfect school for me at that time.” And NBCCD continues to be Maja’s perfect school.  She loves the interaction with students and colleagues, loves teaching and “can’t believe her luck” that she teaches and works with some of her closest friends.

Maja believes that discipline, time management and the importance of routine and experimenting, are three of the top things she learned at NBCCD that she uses in everyday studio life.  She also believes she has her dream job. She gets to build, design, experiment in her own studio and teach. These are all important items as she “bores easily”.

That touchable, delicious sensuality to Maja’s glaze work comes from constant research in glaze chemistry that she says she learned at NBCCD. Although there are commercial available glazes, Maja takes pride in putting personal touches in her work which comes from understand how raw ceramics materials behave in the kiln. She calls glazing an endless process where you search for that perfect surface treatment for a specific form. “A badly formulated, applied or fired glaze can easily ruin a clay form that we put a lot of effort into. Testing first is the way to try to avoid or minimize those disappointments”.

The general public and beginning craftspeople might well wonder how Maja gets into so many shows, beyond having experimented, practiced and constantly building her line. After being approached by two prominent Canadian curators Gloria Hickey and Christian Bernard Singer, and asked to participate in two big national shows. She has kept the momentum going by applying to public calls for submission, in every relevant ceramic publication that she can find. No magic, just a lot of research and hard work. That is why Maja’s advice to beginning ceramists is to “work a lot and read a lot”.

Constant inspiration comes from both making and glazing, where each thing inspires the next step. Maja does admit though, to looking at a lot of historical and contemporary ceramics, other craft disciplines, art history, man-made objects, and of course architecture.

With a goal of having a show in one of her favourite small museums in a big city, and having her own show at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, Maja shows no signs of slowing down.  She loves the physical work, dirt and sweat but especially loves the travel she makes a priority. As much as possible she travels to see her work in the shows she’s accepted into, and also takes the time to visit museums, galleries and other artist students at the same time. Maja also travels for workshops, residencies, and to see other art shows, not necessarily ceramic. She claims “that is the real inspiration, the cool group shows where I had my work were just the cherry on the top”.

Maja’s “aha moment” came after she managed to pull her first clay cylinder, after many hours of struggling, and after talking to a couple of local potters who later became her friends and encouraged her to continue. Maja’s success can also be attributed to her sketchbook, which she says is very important.  It’s her way to organize her ideas, plus she takes many photos of her work in progress, both good and bad. Another important factor for every successful artist/craftsperson is a supportive partner, family or colleagues. She says “artists needs curators who will point out your work and include it in relevant shows, art critic or write to say good things about the work; politicians who will allow grants for artists whose work is not only commercial; access to worships and artist talks;…and of course education.

With no plans for retirement, Maja says she will be building, making and creating for as long as she possibly can. Her fellow instructors, friends and fans certainly hope Maja continues to delight, surprise and inspire others, for many years.

Follow Maja on Facebook and at majapadrov.com

 

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Maja Padrov. Photo by Photo (506)

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