Written by Greysen Strumpler
Head Student Ambassador, 2023-24
As a painter, when I think of artists that create ceramics and pottery, I begin to think of those that strive for perfection. In fact, I think many people that are outside of this realm have the idea that ceramics are something that is exact, precise, and perfect. Many of us cannot fathom the idea of creating something seamless where others cannot perceive the struggles that went into making the object. Because of my wonder towards artists like this, whenever I am able to sit with a ceramic artist and delve into their craft with them, I make sure to take advantage of that opportunity.
Campbell Eubanks is one of these artists. Campbell is a senior Bachelor of Fine Arts student at Columbus State University with a concentration in ceramics. Many of our readers may already be familiar with both Campbell and her work. She is a prolific student within the art department at Columbus State, as well as an active member of the Columbus Artists’ Guild, and she frequently sells her work at her own booth at Market Days on Broadway. Her work has also been shown in different exhibits around the community such as Beyond Go-Figure at the Bartlett Center, the member’s exhibit at the Columbus Artists’ Guild, as well an exhibit that she curated herself, ‘Ceramics Throughout the Centuries’ at Columbus State.
The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Q: How did you get into creating and making art as a child?
A: I’ve always been interested in art. I think most children are. We all start off so interested in art, and then people discourage you along the way, but I feel like I always had a lot of support from my family. People would ask, ‘what do you want to be when you grow up,’ and I would always say, “I want to be an artist.” I was always dead set on it.
Q: What was a formative experience for you as an artist?
A: In the fifth grade, I got polymer clay. I had been doing the things that kids typically do, like drawing. Drawing was fun, but I wasn’t good at it.
I think in a three-dimensional way. When I got the clay, it felt right. I could translate a two-dimensional thing into three-dimensions. If I was trying to draw something, it wouldn’t translate in the same way. That was when I was realized I was obsessed with it.
Relativity - December 2022
Q: Tell me about what you create now as an art student.
A: I mostly use ceramics, and I create sculptural work as well. I would say I’m primarily a ceramic artist, but I’ll also do printmaking or use a different medium for sculpture, or combine them with ceramics.
My style feels like a lot of different styles, especially now in art school. It became abstracted, and I use a lot of symbols. For example, in one piece, I created red solo cups and cans to act as trash, and then I made them into a trophy. It was about striving for perfection and not gaining it. About trying to make perfection out of something that’s not perfect or that’s basically waste.
I use the symbol of a house a lot as well. To me, it means success, especially as someone in a younger generation. It represents the American Dream ideal, and I equate it with adulthood. Achieving success is having a house.
There’s also a lot of expectations with ceramics because it has such a long history, and I feel that it plays into themes that I work with, such as having expectations of being great. It looks perfect and there are rules to creating ceramics.
When creating ceramics, you have to master each technique before you can go on to the next. So many things can go wrong throughout the process. It could crack. It could explode in the kiln. There’s something about the lack of control and the necessity to figure out how to control it, and this goes along with the themes of my work as well, of wanting to make this perfect thing or wanting to have a perfect life. Things happen that you can’t predict, and it teaches you to let go.
Q: You’ve mentioned that there’s a long history of ceramic work that comes with high expectations. Do you feel that’s still true today?
A: I think many people now are breaking the expectations of what ceramics is, and what it has previously been in society. But first, you have to acknowledge how ceramics was perceived in history, such as the ceramic artist, Greyson Perry. He plays with people’s preconceived notions, and creates something different and new, but is informed by the history.
You can’t have something new or unique if you don’t know what has come before. I can use techniques in a different way, do it completely opposite, or combine it with something different to make something completely new.
Hard to Swallow, October 2022
Q: Do you consider what you create as art or craft?
A: I feel like I’m inbetween two worlds. In art school, they push you to learn more about art theory and create work with meaning, but there’s also the functional side of ceramics that does very well. I would like to combine them so that my work is functional, but also meaningful. I don’t want to compromise. However, I feel that many ceramic artists get stuck on the phrase ‘craft.’ I don’t think it’s a bad phrase, and it acknowledges what has come before, and how ceramics began. It doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to create, and what I create holds meaning for me either way.
Q: What is a dream project or piece that you would like to work on in the future?
A: I would really like to make a piece that you are supposed to break on purpose, and then put the pieces back together with Kintsugi. Kintsugi is a Japanese repairing technique for ceramics where you use gold to fill in the cracks and put the piece back together. It’s to highlight that it’s a broken thing, but it can still serve a purpose, and it can still be beautiful. Imperfection can be okay.
Q: You’re part of the Columbus Artist Guild, and very active in the art community at CSU. Why is community important as an artist?
A: Earlier I talked about my family being supportive of me being an artist. Community is equally as important in that aspect. It’s really important when you have that support in a community, because not everyone has a supportive family. It’s hard to be an artist, and we all know how hard it is to be an artist. The more community you have, the easier it is to be an artist, and it makes it less daunting.
Q: What’s something that you would like to share with the non-artist community about being an artist?
A: Being an artist is more difficult than people understand it to be. It’s a very vulnerable career to choose. I want people to understand the passion that artists have and how their art is a piece of themselves. It’s difficult to put yourself out there. Jerry Saltz said, ‘it’s like dancing naked in public.’ It’s putting yourself in a very vulnerable position.
For aspiring artists, be intentional with what you are trying to say with your art. Make pieces that are meaningful to you. Work introspectively.
Connect with Campbell:
Instagram - @campbelleubanksart
Email - email@example.com