Our studio visit posts have been a hit and we haven’t done one in a while, so I figured it was about time we did. Today, we’ll pay a visit to ceramic sculptor Cynthia Giachetti’s Baton Rouge, Louisiana, studio. In addition to great photos of her spacious (but hot) studio, her work, and her canine buddy Cody, Cynthia shares insights into her career as a working ceramic artist. Look for the full article in an upcoming issue of Ceramics Monthly! Enjoy! Jennifer Harnetty, editor.


This post is excerpted from the Studio Visit department in Ceramics Monthly magazine!
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Ceramic installation by Cynthia Giachetti.

Ceramic installation by Cynthia Giachetti.

Just the Facts

Clay
porcelain or earthenware

Primary forming method
handbuilding and slip casting

Primary firing temperature
cone 6

Favorite surface treatment

cone 6 handmade glazes

Favorite tools
Test
kiln. Part of my process is doing many glaze tests. I’m very specific
about finding a ceramic surface that mimics the surface on
architectural or domestic found objects.

Most-used piece of equipment
my two kilns


Detail of ceramic installation by Cynthia Giachetti.

Detail of ceramic installation by Cynthia Giachetti.

Studio
I work in and own a home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. My studio is in a separate 550-square-foot garage with two large barn-style doors in the front that allow for light, with a back entrance to my garden. It is very spacious and allows room for four large tables with storage shelves underneath, two sets of wall shelves for glazes and greenware, as well as my two kilns. There are also wide areas of wall space to do drawings and mock installations. Having this space is extremely important for my process, since I am a project-based installation artist. Each table in my studio is designated for specific tools and tasks, like forming, glazing, painting, restoring, and arranging. Often, I have many aspects of my projects working at the same time, and having the table spaces allows me to stay focused and organized.

My favorite aspect of the studio is the size, and its location right outside the door of my home. This makes it very convenient to come into the house and take a break for lunch or surf the Internet.

My least favorite aspect is not having enough light. Also, there is no heat and very poor air conditioning. Baton Rouge is humid in the summer, so I recently installed an electric window air conditioner that helps just enough to keep me from overheating. Unfortunately, if the AC is on, the large barn doors have to be closed and this severely cuts down on the natural light. My studio goes from being open, bright, and sunny, to enclosed and cavelike, which can have an effect on my mood. Although the winters here are usually mild, I often have to close the doors to stay warm. Last winter was unusually cold with 14 days straight of freezing temperatures. I had to bundle up and clothes pin a heating pad on my back so I wouldn’t stiffen up. Walking around was difficult because I had to watch out behind me for the trailing cord. When it is cold, I’ve also glazed my work in the kitchen inside my house. Of course I dream of having a bright, slick, air-controlled studio; however, I’m very grateful to have a spacious place to work.

Paying Dues (and Bills)
I received my BFA in visual art from University of California at Davis in 2002, where I studied both painting and ceramics. I received my MFA in visual art from Louisiana State University in 2007. My work during graduate school had an emphasis on performance, materiality and process. Now I work part time at Baton Rouge Community College where I have taught 3D design, 2D design, and introduction to visual art.

Cynthia Giachetti's pomeranian Cody poses outside her ceramics studio.

Cynthia Giachetti's pomeranian Cody poses outside her ceramics studio.

Body
My back often hurts and I find walking every day with my pomeranian, Cody, helps correct my posture and relieve tension. Being out in nature also reduces my stress level and gives me time to think. There are two lakes near my home that are perfect for strolling around. There are badgers, frogs, turtles, and many different species of birds that either pass by or make their home around these lakes.

I currently have no health insurance and try to be careful and take good care of myself. I’m hoping that I will eventually find a full-time teaching position that will provide that benefit for me.

Pieces in process by Cynthia Giachetti.

Pieces in process by Cynthia Giachetti.

Marketing
I don’t have a website because it is currently under construction, but I don’t usually sell my work online. I am a member of the artaxis.org website and have a few images posted as well as a résumé, and artist statement. My MFA thesis show can be seen online, search for Cynthia Giachetti, “What Remains.”

I sell my work mostly out of my studio and through galleries and designers. Making a product and the sales of my work don’t necessarily motivate me, although it’s nice when a collector buys one of my pieces.

Most Valuable Lesson
Art can be a vehicle for hope and change. As a nation we have witnessed so much loss with the damage suffered after Hurricane Katrina, the economic crisis, and the current environmental disaster we now face on the Gulf Coast. These events are very much a part of our collective consciousness. These circumstances have challenged our belief system but also forced us as a community to come together to help one another. Through my art I have learned so much about my surrounding environment and myself, which has left an indelible mark on my spirit.



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