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Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Ray Bub: Reassembled Ring Master

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Clay in the hands of artist Ray Bub
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Pownal, Vt. – The impact of art is in the art itself, according to renowned ceramic artist Ray Bub.

“In art, clumsy art can be as meaningful as graceful art,” Bub said during a May 17 interview at his Oak Bluffs pottery studio. “Anyone can tell their story. There is no ‘right answer,’ as in math. If you make it the way you like it, you’ve made a beauty that wasn’t there before.”

The Artist

For Bub, the “beauty that wasn’t there before” is shaped from his hands as ceramic reassembled ring teapots, many of which have found a national and international spotlight. In 2004, Bub’s original “Purple Foamy Whitecaps” teapot was selected for exhibition at the First Taiwan Ceramics Biennale exhibit. In 2002, Bub’s work was featured at Boston’s Park Plaza Castle prestigious “Crafts at the Castle” show. Of the 650 craft show applicants, Bub was one of the 103 artists chosen to exhibit his work. His “Lemon-Yellow Triangular Cross-Section Reassembled Hollow Ring Teapot” was included at the First World Ceramic Biennale 2001 Korea Competition; the event featured only 305 fired-clay pieces selected from 4,206 entries submitted by 2,019 ceramic artists from 69 countries. His articles have been published in “Ceramics Monthly” magazine and his work has been published in “The Teapot Book,” which highlights American and European teapots.


Bub's work sits at his Pownal studio.
Bub doesn’t limit himself to teapots or ceramics; his painted “Rainbow Sherbet Zebra” moose statue is part of the Bennington, Vt. MooseFest 2005 event and the studio is filled with ceramic cups, vases, and other items he’s created at the potter’s wheel. Clay is “a beautiful material because it is formless,” he said.

“Any art medium that you use expresses human aspiration,” he said. “Clay art may not have preceded flat art [such as drawing] but it’s back there with it. Clay has been used for human expression for thousands of years.”

Clay can be molded into almost any vision of any artist who has learned to handle it, Bub said.

“It’s a sculptural media, meaning it comes up off the page,” he said. “We live in a three-dimensional world. It’s a pleasure to work in a sculptural medium because it is so much closer to the way we live. And the living, three-dimensional world has so much more accomplishment and beauty than we as sculptors can bring.”

As for the teapots,“teapots have about a 600-year history,” Bub noted.

“Teapots were made in China to make tea, certainly by 1400 A.D.” Bub said. “Teapots were in common use by the 1500s. It’s a shape that is very challenging to make. To make teapots is to participate in historic dialogue. I’m adding my voice to a large chorus of voices who made devices ostensibly to serve tea.”

Thinking Off the Wheel

His artistry at the wheel delivers his perspective, he said.

“I bring a variation,” Bub said. “Van Gogh didn’t invent paint, he brought a variation.”

Bub said the teapots will brew tea if hot water is poured into the vessels, but functionality is not a priority.

“I’m never asked by collectors ‘can I brew tea in this?,'” Bub said, and added that freedom from functionality brings about a wealth of creative opportunity.

His current creation involves three separate teapots that will stand together as one sculpture.

“I’m thinking of three teapots that will turn to each other for companionship, and will group together,” he said.

Bub said he designs and creates when away from the wheel.

“I do my thinking off the wheel,” he said. “I think about shapes when I can’t get to sleep at night.”

Teacher of "Invisible Art"

Bub began molding clay in 1967 and came to the Berkshires in 1974. He opened the Oak Bluffs studio in 1978 and has taught ceramic arts at Williams College, the former North Adams State College [now the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts] and Southern Vermont College. He has worked with students at various elementary schools.

Private, eight-week teaching sessions are held at the Pownal studio. The studio hosts 10 potters wheels and classes are capped at nine students per $280 session. Police officers, loggers, high school students, and college alumni have been included in his student population, he said.

A teapot designed by Bub


“People take my class to enrich their lives,” he said. “I think all my students are successful. I don’t judge my students as to if they contributed to the culture. I encourage freedom in my students.”

In the United States, ceramic art is “an invisible art,” Bub said.

“In other cultures, ceramic art is more valued and the artists are better known,” he said. “I still have aspirations for my life and my work.”

Popular recognition is not what drives most artists and is not a predominant force behind Bub’s artistic energy, he said.

“You can only offer what you offer and if the culture picks you up…I mean, Van Gogh only sold two paintings in his life and yet he kept on painting.”

Bub’s work will be featured from Oct. 29 to Dec. 4 during a one-man show at the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, Vt.. The exhibit grand opening is set for 2 p.m.-4 p.m. on Oct. 29.

Additional information about Bub is available at www.raybub.com or by calling 802-823-5161.

Susan Bush may be reached at 802-823-9367 or by e-mail at suebush123@adelphia.net.
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