History lives in pottery according to Adam Russell

Clay master Adam Russell of Key West Pottery moved down to the Southernmost City from Ohio five years ago, following his discovery of the island after an invitation to serve as a resident artist with The Studios of Key West. The old architecture, Caribbean atmosphere and history enchanted him.

“I have an extreme fascination with history. When we are gone, our art will tell the story of us,” Russell said.

His latest collection is inspired by Key West. “Future Ancient” sprung from Adam’s love of the past and indigenous methodology and the result is a colorful celebration of island aesthetics and an over-sized and entirely unique take on ceramics. Pelicans and chickens seen frequently in Key West populate Russell’s collection. One sculpture is of a gator inspired by the one said to inhabit the moat at Fort Zachary Taylor.

With no formal background in pottery, Russell developed his own style of earthenware art. Russell studied painting at university and discovered his niche when he began painting on pottery created by his wife. The appealing finished product that was selling faster than it could be produced.

“It was an intrinsic path and a combination of mind and matter,” he said.

Russell said his work is limited by the size of his kiln, but he finds creative ways around the obstacle. Some of his work is created in sections, then pieced together.

Although he makes the standard bowls and plates, Russell also pushes the envelope by sculpting figures like birds on large posts and clay, colorful fish about two meters high. Recently Russell was commissioned to create pieces for The Marker Waterfront Resort in Key West, titled “5 Watchovers.” Again, his work is layered with meaning. For simplicity’s sake, however, he rfers to them as The Watchover of the Navigator, The Watchover of the Feeling, The Watchover of The Republic, The Watchover of the Red Sky, and The Watchover of the Quiet Life.

Stop by the Key West Pottery showroom and store at 1203 Duval Street or see his work or online at Keywestpottery.com. His work is on display at The Studio’s gallery through April 30.

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