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Government of New Brunswick

Michael James Wood

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Michael James Wood

Michael Wood's artistic journey began with a profound love for cooking and baking, where the fusion of chemistry and creativity sparked his interest in ceramics. His exploration of this medium has been both eclectic and transformative. Participating in The Great Canadian Pottery Throwdown on CBC provided him with a unique challenge, forcing him to deviate from his usual process of repetition and embrace spontaneity—an experience that fundamentally altered his approach to ceramics.

Unconventional in nature, Michael has never been one to adhere to rules. Instead, his combination of self-directed learning, mentorships, conferences, and workshops has influenced him on what rules to bend and which to break. This unorthodox approach has led to an innovative fusion of traditional techniques with contemporary concepts.

Central to Michael's artistic practice is his deep dive into glaze chemistry. Through meticulous study and experimentation, he has delved into the intricate relationship between materials and their chemical compositions. His current project, generously funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and artsnb, embodies his commitment to sustainability. By collecting minerals from mines across Eastern Canada and using their chemical analyses to create glazes, Michael aims to not only promote ecological consciousness but also democratize knowledge by making the recipes publicly available.

Motivated by a desire for credibility and recognition, Michael pursued formal education, obtaining a certificate in Foundation Visual Arts and a Diploma in Fine Craft Ceramics from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design. This journey instilled in him a sense of resilience and confidence, shaping him into the accomplished artist he is today.

In his artwork, Michael strives for elegant simplicity, allowing the purity of design to convey narratives of identity, community, and environment. Symbolism plays a crucial role, with elements like antlers, bones, and trees imbuing his pieces with layers of meaning.

Beyond his personal practice, Michael is dedicated to fostering a stronger ceramics community in Eastern Canada. Through sharing knowledge and building connections, he envisions a vibrant artistic landscape where creativity thrives, and boundaries are constantly pushed. With each creation, Michael Wood continues to explore, question, and inspire, leaving an indelible mark on the world of contemporary ceramics.

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What led you to become an artist?

I've always viewed the world through a unique lens, questioning its workings and societal norms. My journey from cooking to ceramics has become a means for me to document our world.

How did your training and experience help you to create and innovate in your artistic practice?

Starting as a self-taught ceramics’ artist, I pursued technical mastery through mentorships and delving into glaze chemistry. Understanding the bonds in ceramics echoes the social bonds we form as humans.

What stimulates you most about your practice?

Ceramics' intriguing nature lies in the discovery of failures after completion. Working in series allows quick evolution of ideas without emotional attachment to individual pieces.

What drew you to ceramic works?

Ceramics, akin to cooking, blends creativity with chemistry, offering a canvas to break rules while adhering to some.

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What motivates your creativity?

Inspiration strikes during walks with my dog, through fantasy novels, or simply by observing the world around me.

How does your creative process unfold as you create an artwork?

I work swiftly in series, evaluating each piece's strengths and weaknesses as I go, allowing for rapid idea development.

What is your artistic approach and/or philosophy to creating art?

My work mirrors my persona—casual, contemporary, and carefree.

Why do you think it's important to make art and pursue an artistic career?

Like ceramics documenting cultures, my work captures our current era, preserving our stories for future generations.

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What have you learned about yourself and the artistic community through your work?

Through my practice, I've learned patience and understanding. I've come to understand that perfection isn't the goal; excellence is enough.

What do you think is the impact of artists' work on communities as a whole?

We serve as historians, documenting our world for future generations.

Describe what you are most proud of in your career?

Every sale, every successful application reminds me of my journey's evolution, from selling $10 bowls to larger pieces, each cherished by their owner.

What advice would you give to young and emerging artists?

Persist in your vision, despite naysayers. Dedication and time breed development and success.

Where can we follow your work?

Love NB arts and culture? Share your favourites. #inspiredbyNB