We had the good fortune of connecting with Tina Curry and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tina, what is the most important factor behind your success?
My artwork is truly a part of me. People who know me or meet me always tell me that they sense such a soulfulness and heart in my pieces. I create pieces from my love of animals and they make my spirit happy. Its such a joy when others connect to my pieces in the same way.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
All of my sculptures are hand-built, so each has its own distinctive personality and characteristics. I utilize alternative firing techniques to create unique finishes for my sculptures. Using natural elements of horse hair, sawdust, banana peels, coffee, manure, and salt create an organic fusion. The fire, smoke, and fumes dance to create more natural surface effects and colorations. I was frustrated with trying to use traditional glazes that many times covered up the textures and intricate details that I took the time to create. The alternative firing techniques of raku, sagger, horsehair and controlled wood chip smoking enhance the beauty of the original piece.
One thing I have learned along the way, make the art for yourself, not just to sell and eventually success will come. I started out trying to make pieces that I thought other people would like. I had to decide what I wanted my art to say about me. Thats when I started doing more animal sculpture. My love of animals was my focus; their personalities; individuality; and yes their humor.
Something I was told early on was that it was hard to sell sculpture. Pieces that just collect dust and have no real utilitarian purpose. Well I said no to that. Sculpture does have a purpose. It makes you think. Makes you smile. Brings back memories. And allows the creator to give a glimpse into their soul. Being able to create a sculptural piece with my hands is truly a spiritual process. Part of me will always live in that piece no matter where it finds a home. That is why I continue to create and share my love of art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
A few area galleries in Knoxville downtown. The Art Market which has local artist work. The Art and Culture Alliance supports a diverse community of artists, art organizations and cultural institutions. Each month new exhibitions and artists studios in same space. Market Square which is the center of downtown has many eclectic shops, eateries, and art vendors set up their wares weekly. Summertime outdoor concerts and movies in same location. The Knoxville Museum of Art is in the same area.
Just an hour away, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and the Park itself. So many shops with local artwork and craftsmen, family fun parks like Dollywood, numerous hiking trails, bike trails, camp sites and picturesque views in the Park. Historic Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts is located in Gatlinburg.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give credit to my mentor and friend who introduced me to the art of clay. Bill Capshaw, Master. Ceramicist, Oak Ridge, Tn. I took a beginning clay class with Bill back in the early 90s. I, of course, like most started throwing pots on the wheel. It was torture to me. Lol! I guess the structure and process was too restrictive for my nature. I did give it a two year try and was about to give up on clay all together. Bill introduced me to handbuilding and it just released my creativity. I was able to expand my skills and my mind with creating with clay masks and eventually sculpture. I have been fortunate to have taken workshops with many amazing clay artists over my career including John Quinn, Philippe Faraut, and most recently Rod Zullo, who started me on my bronze sculpture journey. I truly believe that being open to educational opportunities is essential to my continued success.
Photos by CJSavon