Hugh Bridgeford of MudBugs pottery describes his art as “a hobby grown out of control.” The Urbana resident creates pottery with a sense of humor, and many of his current pots have a whimsical or satirical quality. He recently chatted with us about his art, which we’re happy to have at VK!
What was your first piece? What inspired you to create it?
I created a green vase in high school using the coil method. It had a sun across the side inspired by the movie “Yellow Submarine.”
How long have you been creating?
Nearly as long as I can remember I’ve been creating. I still have a couple Christmas ornaments I made as a child. I made a conscious decision to follow my creativity on leaving high school. I left years of commercial art in 2004, when I was juried into the Illinois Artisans Program.
How did you get into making pottery?
Pottery and drawing were originally something I did to take a break from work in commercial art. At the point I left commercial art I naturally filled more of my time with making pots. It’s a hobby grown out of control.
Describe your creative process.
My imagery is inspired by news that piques my interest: “Ned Kelly’s skull found” or “Parachute may be lead in D. B. Cooper case.” I research the news and try to find the core of what is interesting for me. At the same time I have some work already in progress in the studio allowing the new idea to gestate into imagery. There is a constant rhythm between the studio and researching backstories on the internet. I spend significant time in the studio every day that my wife isn’t home. On those days we may plan strategy or work cooperatively on projects.
What drew you to ceramics?
I love the rhythm of the ceramic process. Clay has to be prepared, then thrown and altered, spouts and handles added. Then dried and fired. All this before any imagery can be added to its surface. Each step has its own pace and generally cannot be rushed. It’s something akin to being a farmer – The outcome remains in question until harvest.
What is your favorite part of the creative process? What is your least favorite part?
After over a decade I have come to find pleasure in nearly every aspect of the potting process, even cleanup. The most exciting is to open a glaze firing and to see the finished work for the first time.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by individuals or events I find outstanding or unique in some way. The current work uses the theme of moonshine and moonshining as a lens to look at individuals who acted outside of convention to perform dramatic and celebrated act. It may be D. B. Cooper and the only unsolved airline hijacking on the books or Ned Kelly who performed robberies wearing homemade armor in 1880s Australia.
What do you do when you’re not making art?
My wife, Ann, and I take seriously our obligation to give back to our community. We have been involved in issues of homelessness and hunger. We also donate to fundraisers for HIV awareness and access to medical care. Finally, we are always visiting friends and family spread from one end of the country to the other.
Don’t forget to check out Hugh’s display at Vintage Karma!