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Bluemont artist throws intensity into her work

photoTimes-Mirror Photos/Stephen Weitz Amy Oliver in the Arts in the Village Gallery begins initial sketching on her largest “Intensely Carved” work in progress. This piece was thrown on the wheel with 20 pounds of clay.

Amy Oliver’s work is best documented by her new series of “Intensely Carved” pottery. 

A term coined by Oliver, “Intensely Carved” pottery describes the artist’s method of removing negative space on the surface of her hand thrown pots. 

She creates these pots on the wheel with thicker than normal walls to allow for enough strength after preparation and final firing in the kiln. 

Embarking on this series brings Oliver back to drawing, which has always been important to her foundational work. It now becomes ever more present as the pottery’s form and function multiplies to serve as the canvas for her “Intensely Carved” drawings on pottery. There are similarities in technique captured in the bas reliefs throughout art history.

Oliver’s, “Intensely Carved” pottery represents a contemporary interpretation of these bas reliefs.  One of her thoughts is a question of method for applying glaze to the “Intensely Carved” pottery.

“You can not initiate color without movement. Glaze is part of the story, but form is important along with building a canvas out of a pot,” she said.

In 2001 Oliver moved to Loudoun County, and bought the family property which included an old general store called Freeman’s, once owned and operated by Oliver’s great grandfather who had a zoo with monkeys on the property. After being told that the village of Bloomfield was actually called Monkeytown long ago, that’s what she named her business.

Freeman’s store is now Oliver’s studio, where she teaches classes. Her classes have a loyal following of students who are producing top-level ceramics which will be on exhibit and for sale at Monkeytown Pottery. She has nurtured beginning students into professional potters and many are still taking her classes.

Oliver has decided that her life’s work is to strive, in the true sense of an artist, to dedicate her time and energy making objects and imagery, which are most meaningful to her own creative vision. This vision is exemplified in the “Intensely Carved” pottery. It is a strong acknowledgment of the current success of her artistic efforts to see the unification of drawing and clay in the ceramic piece titled “In the Forest,” currently on view at Arts in the Village Gallery at the Village At Leesburg.

This artwork is her most successful narrative piece to date embodying mother and daughter doing things together in nature. Oliver’s drawings on paper complement her pottery and the imagery finds its way onto the vessels’ walls. Her latest work in progress is a vessel thrown with 20 pounds of clay on which she has just started the preliminary drawing. Oliver’s plans are to continue the “Intensely Carved” works increasing the size and volume of the vessels which will require multiple thrown pots built together.

In addition to the “Intensely Carved” pottery, she also throws an assortment of utilitarian forms including mugs, honey pots, berry bowls, wine coolers, batter bowls, and a recently completed commission for a large ceramic sink. 

Oliver’s work is on view and available for sale at: Arts in the Village Gallery in the Village At Leesburg; Twigs in Purcellville; Great Country Farms and Monkeytown Pottery in Bluemont.



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