I applied for one of the Jerome artist grants offered by the Northern Clay Center earlier this year. I didn't get the grant - boo - but I did have the opportunity to sit down with one of the jurors, Cary Esser (who was also a McKnight resident at NCC, and is an AMAZING lady!), to talk about my proposal and my work. I was excited to talk with Cary, because I greatly respect her opinion, and I was eager for feedback from someone rooted in the academic clay world. At the crux of our conversation was the issue of form. She, along with the other two jurors, felt that while my surfaces contain a strong concept, my forms do not. I totally agree with this assessment of my pieces. The form is a place where I just make and enjoy the material. The surface is a place for me to think hard and set up ideas and a narrative. While there is part of me that would like a more definite place to pull from formally, there is another part that worries my work will lose accessibility if I increase the complexity of the pots. So, finally, here is my question: Are there ways to pull the concept of my surfaces into the forms while keeping the pieces functional and approachable? I think the successful marriage of surface and form is an issue for a lot of folks, especially those who put imagery on their pots. I've had a few ideas about how to balance concept and functionality, but I'd love to hear what any of you out there have to say (and maybe how you have resolved/not resolved this in your own work)!