Artists ~ Anna Galloway Highsmith ~ Providence

Artist’s name: Anna Galloway Highsmith
Shop name: Dot Dot Workshop

1. Tell us about your work
My work is all hand built-- that means I don't use a potter's wheel, I just make it with my hands and some hand tools. I love making mugs, small trays, creamers, vases, and a few goofy little creatures. I often carve patterns and textures (and sometimes faces) into the surface of my pieces.

2. How did you come to be a professional artist/crafter/designer?
I went to RISD for Industrial Design, and had a wonderful time there making things out of wood, metal, fabric, and ceramic. Once I graduated, I realized that I'm more of a maker than a designer, and I fell in love with clay. I've taught drawing, design, sculpture, and pottery, and the combination of teaching and studio work makes me really happy. I love my chatty, thought-provoking students, and I love solitary days in my studio.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration?
I love useful things made well out of durable materials. My ultimate goal is for my stoneware pottery to deserve a space next to linen smocks, steel grain elevators, stone embankments, leather tool belts, enamel cups, and wooden bowls. I don't know if I'm there yet, but I hope to have decades ahead of me to get a little closer.

The colored and textured designs that I add to my pieces tend to evolve from my direct studio experimentation. I'm always trying to find the sweet spot between what my tools are good at doing, what the clay is willing to do, and what my hands, eyes, and mind are drawn to. I do a lot of trial and error in the decorating phase. The more pieces I discard before they get fired in my kiln, the more progress I'm making in refining and expending my language of lines and patterns.

4. What’s your favorite item to create?
Whatever I've just finished carving. I'm always intoxicated with love with what goes into the kiln, and then once it's fired and glazed and fired again, I have a little more distance and I'm able to review it more critically. Maybe once a year I make something that I truly adore, even once it's been glazed. Lately, it's a little milk pitcher that I gave to a friend. There was just something compelling about its stature, like a very short man with excellent posture.

5. What’s your best seller?
I sell a lot of mugs, and I love seeing them go out into the world. I feel like handmade mugs are a gateway drug to buying art. You don't have to buy a whole matching set, they're useful, they make good gifts, you don't have to find wall space for them, and they allow a very sweet and direct connection between the maker and the user. I love making things with my hands that I know people will hold and use and wash with their hands. As a contented introvert, that's one kind of social interaction I really enjoy.

6. How long have you been in Rhode Island?
I moved to Providence as a 17 year old to go to RISD. I've also lived in Boston, Cambridge, and New Bedford since then, but I circled back to Providence with my family ten years ago.

7. What do you {heart} about Rhode Island?
I love that it has both diversity and a certain earnestness. I'm always meeting people that are working hard at doing interesting things that they love. It's small enough that it doesn't overwhelm people's ambitions, and big enough that you can find your niche and your people, no matter who you are.


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