Meet Adam Gruetzmacher, a craftsperson and ceramicist living in St. Paul, Minnesota. Originally from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, Adam attended the University of Wisconsin-Stout, graduating in 2010 with a BFA in Studio Ceramics. Read more about his practice and what drew him to the medium below!
Hi Adam, How long have you been working in ceramics? What brought you into it?
Counting college, I’ve been working with clay for about 12 years. I like the act of making and it is important that my efforts result in something useful. I was attracted to clay in school because it was the most challenging and demanding medium. I am never bored and never stop learning.
What is your studio space like?
My studio takes up the majority of the basement of our 1200 sq. ft. house in St Paul. It has a finished ceiling, tile floor, and plenty of florescent lighting. It’s not the dreamiest studio in the world, but very real, very functional, and I feel lucky to have it.
Do you have any philosophies attached to your craft? How important do you see the act of creating handmade goods in this day and age?
As someone who makes useful objects there are three planes of thought that I reference. Firstly, I rely on my applied arts education wherein the foundations are based squarely on the concepts of design. Secondly, I strongly relate to the ideas and tradition behind craft and craftsmanship, which informs my approach to the materials that I use and the way in which I make. Thirdly, I reflect on my values as a person to ultimately evaluate my work and add an element of humanity. I am successful when I have made a well-designed, well-made object that I feel is an honest distillation of my personal values.
What is your process usually like? How did you develop your individual techniques?
I use traditional wheel throwing and forming techniques, mixed with some occasional cutting and altering to create linear structure in some forms. I think the repetition associated with any traditional craft naturally leads to the development of technique, which is visible in the finished piece. As the maker grows more skilled in his or her craft, the work more closely reflects the person who made it. This process of developing identity through the physicality of the work is a special aspect of handcrafts.
What is it like to be a Minneapolis-based artist? What makes this community unique?
There is no better place in the country to be a potter. There is a lot of studio pottery history in this specific region of Minnesota and there is great public support for the continuation of the craft. I feel lucky to have ended up here.
Where do you see your practice moving towards? Are there any new techniques you’d like to try in the future?
I am open to anything when it comes to my practice. In the last couple years I have become interested in carving green wood spoons. I don’t know a lot about my family, but I have a collection of spoons and scoops used by my grandmother and likely made by my great uncle- and it feels good to practice a craft that can connect me in some way with the history of my family. The more materials and craft concentrations that I explore, the more I understand the cultural and personal importance of the act of making useful things by hand- no matter the medium.
Are there any other local makers whose work you’re really excited about?
I’m excited about the broader art and craft scene in Minnesota. It seems like this state is covered in people who make things by hand either to explore new ideas or maintain and rediscover craft traditions that do not exist anywhere else in the country. We have a wonderfully supportive public and it’s exciting to be a part of it all.