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12 Questions: Vince Palacios

Vince Palacios has been working in the field of ceramic art since 1988. Palacios received his Masters of Ceramic Art from Alfred University and his BFA in ceramics at California State University at Long Beach. He now serves as Professor of the Ceramics Department at El Camino College in Torrance California. He came to El Camino College in 2011 after teaching for six years at Western Illinois University and ten years before that at California State University, Long Beach. He has shown his work nationally and internationally and is included in a number of important private collections as well as prominent museum collections. Palacios continues to exhibit his work and has developed a unique approach to the use of raw glass and ceramic materials as a means of crafting intricate narratives addressing geological process, pyroclastic interaction, and heat/chemical reactions.

I am currently working on a series called Potato Tree with Vines. As this new work progresses, humor and awkwardness are emerging in the completed forms. Each day I work is similar to each night that a comedian or performer does a routine. There are set ideas, techniques, and expectations; but each time something new emerges in response to external stimulus, or circumstance. I love improvisational work! Of course, there are things that I’m able to do with forethought and skill, but I’m most interested in those things that emerge in the moment. Unexpected, Surprising, Mostly uncontrolled. I am employing the wheel and hand-building methods leaving many marks on the surface of the work. There’s nothing new about pinching and leaving your mark in earthen materials. Humans have been doing this from the very beginning; leaving the record or evidence of their existence, expression, and belief in any given material that they used. It is a form of narcissism; a belief that what you’re saying is worth preserving. In this work that I’ve been doing, there is an almost haptic quality. it’s a language not composed of words, rather a composition of marks and bumps and stretching and pressing. In the end, a story is being told, a form emerges; a truth is expressed.

I call the lumps or bulbous forms potatoes on my work but It doesn’t matter if you call them lumps, or bumps, or clumps, or tumors or potatoes, or whatever; these forms have always found their way into my work and have continued to show that humor has always played a significant role in my work from the very beginning. There is a sense of awkwardness or out of place, of protruding or protrusion that creates a feeling of awkwardness. My goal is not to cause viewers to feel awkward, rather, To personally reflect on the sense of being out of place and finding a way of fitting in. The recent exhibition of Philip Guston’s work has help me to re-focus on that quality of awkwardness and humor in my work.

1. What are 1-3 books that have influenced your life? What are you reading or watching right now?

The Bible, Dune, CS Lewis Space Trilogy. Not currently reading but watching Netfilx Origins, a series about unusual foods

2. What are you currently working on? Are you able to create during the pandemic?

Currently working on my Abraded series and my Potato Tree with Vines series. It has been hard to find a place to work as I am a college professor and school is my studio. I have been locked out the past year but have been working in a friend's studio.

3. How has failure set you up for later success? What was your favorite failure?

When I stop failing and taste success just once, I will let you know. J For me failure just builds your endurance and determination. I try not to think too much about success as I am not sure what that is.

4. What is your most unusual habit?

I make it a habit to have not habits.

5. If you could have any painter, living or dead paint your portrait who would it be and why?

Jean-Pierre Larocque, a French Canadian painter/sculpture. His work peers into your soul.

6. What is the most indispensable item in your studio/workspace/office? Share an image of your studio.

7. When you feel overwhelmed or uninspired what do you do? What do you do to get out of a funk? What questions do you ask yourself?

I just work. I am old enough to not be that affected by mood or emotion. I just work

8. What do you see as the artist’s role through this difficult time?

I don’t really separate what I do from myself. My role as an artist, father, husband, teacher, person, is to bring light and hope. I know that is a general statement, but I have a very specific understanding of what that means.


9. Do you collect anything?

Succulents and unusual plants


10. What words of advice would you give to artists during this time?

Seek truth

11. In the last five years what new belief or habit has most improved your life or studio practice?

My belief in Christ, which goes back much further than 5 years, is the most powerful influence in my life. It has improved my life, studio practice, marriage, everything. It is what fills me with purpose, hope, and meaning. Not the most popular belief among artists, but there it is. J

12. Share an inspiring image.

Vince's work is available on ARTSY as a part of the new online exclusive exhibition: Plant, Animal, Growth, Decay, Potato. For more information about the work above visit ARTSY

James May Gallery

Dousman, WI


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