Erin: What are you curious about?
Brooke: Hmm, that would be a very long list. Because of ceramics, I’m really curious about chemistry and how when various chemicals combine, they can produce so many different variations. Clay and glaze are basically just a lot of elements and chemicals interacting.
The idea of being able to understand it on a molecular level sounds super cool. Way over my head cause its so complicated and baffling, but if I could redo my high school chemistry class, I would be all over it. Animals fascinate me too. Big ones, little ones, dogs, rats, sparrows, even roaches though I do realize they’re insects. I guess other living creatures is general. I want to know what they’re all thinking or even how they think. We’re all living on our own little planets. It would be unendingly mind blowing to be able to see the world through another creature’s eyes.
Erin: Describe your work and describe your process.
Brooke: I try to approach ceramics with a free mind so that my creativity can run wild. I’m constantly switching back and forth between throwing on the wheel, handbuilding, making little pinch pots, and playing with paint and embellishments. It’s very rare for me to have a well-thought out, planned piece that I want to make. Various shapes or outlines of objects will usually occur to me in the middle of the night, but it’s only when I’m in my studio and can experiment with clay in my hands that I can really explore my ideas and see if they’ll become fun interesting objects or get squished to be made into something else.
Erin: You pursued a degree in English literature. If you could insert your pottery into one scene from literature, what would it be?
Brooke: It’s potentially not very literary of me, but I would love for my pottery to be in the Mad Hatter Scene in Alice in Wonderland. The world that Lewis Carrol creates is so vivid and mindblowing. Everything is over the top fantastical, but is based on pure logic. Every single sentence in that book follows the philosophical rules of logic, but it’s nonsensical in the best spiraling-out-of-control way. The idea of the Mad Hatter being surrounded by my pots at his epically dysfunctional tea party makes me all kinds of giddy.
Erin: You started your undergrad in Hawaii. After a case of island fever, you found your way to NY. How does this city make you thrive?
Brooke: There’s so much constantly going on in this city and I think it’s the chaotic vibrancy that makes me focus. It gives my mind so much to block out that it makes me have to really zero in on one thing and find own little happy space. Otherwise, I’d always be trying to do 90 different things in 90 different directions. And if there wasn’t so much going on, I’d be in constant search of the chaos.
Erin: You teach pottery. What piece of advice are you too scared to give to your students?
Brooke: To let yourself hate what you make. I played around with clay and made pots for a good 7-8 years before I made something I loved. I was and am obsessed with the medium, but it never quite looked and felt the way I wanted it to. To make something that you’re entirely happy with is so satisfying that continually trashing or disliking what you make can seem so disheartening. But for me, it’s the best way to learn.
Erin: You say “Embrace the Irregular” on your website. Where does the phrase come from and can you share most recent encounter with this mantra in your own life?
Brooke: In my clay making journey, I initially focused on trying to make perfectly symmetrical pieces. If a piece was a bit wobbly or off center, I discarded it and tried again. When I finally got to the point that I could achieve as near perfect symmetry as was humanly possible for me to achieve, I didn’t like it and still discarded everything. I found myself appreciating the small details that made each piece different.
I’ve never been one to dabble or do things subtly or half heartedly, so I decided to dive in headfirst, accentuate and embrace the imperfections and make them intentional. I feel like flawless is boring. Wabi sabi, messed up, bruised, cracked, aged but still functional and standing have a lot more character.
Erin: You collaborate with other makers on a daily basis in and out of your studio. How do these begin and what would your dream collaboration look like?
Brooke: Collaborations generally start pretty simply either by meeting someone at a market or fair and being drawn to their work or stumbling upon someone’s work online. I’m usually drawn to fairly clean but not overly designed aesthetics. If there’s a mutual liking of each other’s work, we go from there and see if we can make cool stuff together!
If I’m going to dream, my absolute ideal collaboration would be being plopped down in the middle of a field with a metal worker, a painter, a carpenter, a fiber maker, a glassmaker, and an architect and making some big crazy possibly livable structure using all of our various choice materials and talents.
Erin: What superpower would you have and why?
Brooke: I would fly, no question. Being able to zip around, go wherever whenever, not plan anything, just lift off and go. Travel the world with ease, have the best view of everything and be able to plop down in the middle of super fun happenings at the drop of a hat. That would be awesome.
Erin: What’s it like working with your hands and on a wheel all day long?
Brooke: I honestly can’t imagine doing anything else. Not being able to take all the ideas I have packed in my head and put them out into the world would be suffocating. Clay is so soft and pliable, but you have to have an understanding of what it’s capable of. It’s just a lump on the table and seems so simple, but the possibilities are endless. How can you not want to be faced with endless possibilities all day long?
Erin: You focus on monochromatic colorations. Why?
Brooke: I like the challenge of seeing how many different striking designs can be achieved using primarily black and white. Most of everyday life is so frenetically colorful that I like the simplicity of black and white. It can be subdued or very in your face, but I like the idea of making what could easily turn into modern, stark black and white stuffiness into pieces that are quirky and approachable. That being said, if I use color, I tend to use every color I can find because I have such a hard time deciding what colors to leave out.
Erin: Tell us why the world needs functional art.
Brooke: It makes life way more interesting.