SUPERMUD MEMBER PROFILES
Micòl Hernández - Instructor
For this Supermud Member Profiles, Scottie Twine spoke to Micòl Hernández, who has taught at Supermud since 2011.
As a girl in Elche in the southeast of Spain, Micòl sometimes went with her mother to a village market to buy local potters’ work to use in decorating her clients’ homes. Micòl thought the potters’ transformation of mud into colorful and useful objects was magical. When one of them overheard Micòl telling her mother she wanted to learn how to do this, he showed her some of the basics on the wheel. She put her hands on the soft clay and knew it was something she needed to do.
In high school Micòl began studying art seriously, and her passion for working with clay led her to a study of ceramic sculpture at university. Micòl also did restoration as part of her studies and briefly considered working for a museum. Although she enjoyed the restoration process and knew it would likely provide a steadier income, it didn’t satisfy her need for the creativity process.
Micòl set up her first studio in her home town with another ceramics artist. They often worked together on pieces, not always knowing where each one’s work started and ended. It was a wonderful relationship, Micòl said, but they were both also developing their own work. To Micòl this meant subsequently attending several artist residency programs around Europe to pursue her work with sculpture.
In 2010 she moved to New York City to study and to improve her English (one of the four languages Micòl speaks). She had no studio for her first year here and so searched for work that would also give her access to one. A call from Supermud’s owner, Iva Smith, in response to Micòl’s resume brought her into Supermud to teach. She had taught with her studio partner in Spain and had loved it. “Studio time can be very lonely,” Micol said, “and I like to share, I like the personal connection. Clay is a very nice conductor… when you have a connection with another person, there’s a power in it. Clay is a simple material everybody can understand and can try, even if they don’t make anything. It’s nice when someone makes something, and they’re happy, and you see that your work was helpful.”
Throughout her career, Micòl has done many installations of her work. While she uses different materials, ceramics has always played a central role, and she works primarily in porcelain. Porcelain is fired at a higher temperature than most other clay bodies, and Micòl described it as “an open medium, with clear surfaces, very pure and at the same time, once fired, it is a strong but delicate body.”
But making a living in ceramics is challenging! It’s a volatile field: what’s popular changes frequently and galleries don’t tend to show ceramics. This fickle marketplace has led Micòl to produce two separate lines of work: sculpture as well as items for the home. Each demands a different creative process. Increasingly fascinated by the utilitarian items, Micòl now spends the majority of her time on different types of tableware and decorative homeware.
Micòl finds inspiration for her work from what she sees around her and also what’s going on in her life. For instance, inspiration for a series of porcelain heads came from observing the wide variety of people she encountered in her travels in Europe and South America. She was particularly struck by the diversity of New Yorkers where she quickly noticed that “every neighborhood, every street, every corner is different.” Inspiration can also produce a decoration piece: For example, the porcelain wreaths formed from individually thrown seashells were an expression of Micòl’s childhood by the sea: “I didn’t know what to make but I knew I wanted to represent the sea and I wanted people to look at a very pure feeling.” So “inspiration isn’t only about making a great sculpture.”
When she has an idea for a piece, Micòl begins by writing it down so as not to lose the idea. From there, “I just go to the studio and make the prototype and start working. Many times an idea turns into nothing; sometimes it turns into something.”
Ultimately, Micòl says, it’s important to maintain a balance between technical skills and the creative process. One must keep making pots. “You cannot make things if you don’t have inspiration, but you can’t make anything if you don’t have the skill, because in ceramics it’s so difficult to create what you really want.”
Last Fall, Micòl started her own company, Micòl Ceramics, where everyone can now go to her website and see the breadth of her work.