Written by Erika L. Block
Patrick Robison has always enjoyed making things. As a child, he discovered an interest in oil painting while watching his mother paint. His grandmother, who lived downstairs, also helped to develop his interest in making things through gardening, baking, sewing, soap making and other household routines. Robison’s interest in drawing and painting continued through high school, which were the only two artistic mediums offered by his school. As an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Robison found himself overwhelmed by the discovery of so many other creative opportunities, including looms, printing presses and a wood shop. “I wanted to try everything. And I did.”
It wasn’t until the last semester of his senior year when ceramics entered the mix, and Robison found his greatest passion. “Life provides each of us with a unique chronology of experiences. If we watch and listen, the journey reveals an inner truth that becomes our passion.” Three years later, he completed his master’s degree in ceramics.
After 40 years of working with clay, Robison is still in love. Teachers, mentors and students provide much of the inspiration for Robison’s work through their encouragement, wisdom and interest. He continues to pursue his passion for clay with a sense of responsibility to share and celebrate the joy of the material. “My work is inspired by all that I enjoy and observe.”
Robison creates a variety of utilitarian pieces such as stoneware for daily use, along with bird baths, bird houses, and garden sculptures. He describes his work as visceral. “Its sensuality enamored me from the very first touch and has inspired a style of work that strives to retain a visual softness even after the pieces are kiln fired. Clay is one of earth’s most abundant and magical materials. Responsive when wet, fragile when dry, then hardened by its unpredictable journey in the kiln firing.” Through this process, he has learned to “embrace the failures and successes that provide both humility and elation.” He often includes metal, wood, wire, fiber, and found objects in his sculptural pieces. He is currently working on a series of fused and slumped glass forms that include clay and fiber components.
For Patrick Robison, the joy is in the making, which becomes complete when someone chooses to make his work a part of their personal space. He believes that handmade fine art and fine craft carries the spirit of the maker, and that using and caring for handmade creations encourages contemplation and ritual in home life. He and his wife, Karen, work together in harmony to maintain the Two Fish Gallery, their studios and sculpture gardens, and the Two Fish School, which specializes in high-fire stoneware. “Our passion for all these parts creates a natural balance for the whole.”
To learn more, please visit Patrick Robison online at twofishgallery.net.
Erika L. Block is a professional writer and designer working exclusively with the art, music, publishing, film and fashion industries. She is also a contemporary mixed media artist.
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