Spanish expatriate Tony Trosky's pottery is functional as well as striking
FARMINGTON — Growing up in sunny Andalusia, Spain, a region on that country's southern coast, Toni Trosky said colorful pottery was a part of everyday life — it was used for functional purposes throughout her family's home, as well as being a fixture on every patio.
Two decades ago, when she decided to take up pottery herself, it seemed only natural when that influence made its way into her own work. Trosky, who now operates a studio and gallery in Aztec, will have five or six of her decorative but functional pieces featured in the inaugural Garden Show opening this weekend at the Feat of Clay Co-op Gallery in Aztec. Her pieces include cups, vases and even ceramic leaves.
Trosky said she loves working with micaceous clay, a substance mined mostly in the mountains of Northern New Mexico and characterized by tiny sparkling flakes. When fired, Trosky said, it takes on a smoky-shiny appearance that appeals to her.
"I think I get that from the landscape of places where I grew up," she said.
Trosky has lived in New Mexico for 33 years and said she began her artistic career as a sculptor. That's something she continues to do occasionally, but she dived into pottery 20 years ago and has devoted most of her attention to that medium ever since.
All the pieces Trosky crafted for the Garden Show are new. She said she built the cups from slabs, glazing the inside so they would be functional, but leaving the outside unglazed, though she did hand paint them. Her square vases, also built from slabs, resemble small paper sacks, she said, though she noted they will hold water so that they also are functional.
She is especially enthused about one of her vases in the show, which she said she created using the obvara technique. Trosky said that style originated in Eastern Europe in the 13th century and involves the use of a mix of flour, sugar, yeast and water as a sealant. That mixture is allowed to ferment for three days. When the pottery piece is pulled from a 1,600-degree kiln, it is dunked in the mixture, causing an effect that Trosky likened to lava flowing from a volcano. The piece, its surface scalded and sealed, is then plunged in cold water to cool.
"The effect is quite different and very striking," she said.
Trosky called pottery her passion and said she enjoys the process very much.
"It's kind of addictive," she said. "You just can't stay away from it."
Feat of Clay's Janet Grenawalt said the idea for the Garden Show came from her and was greeted with excitement by other organizers of the co-op. She said gallery organizers were intent on holding more community-oriented shows this year — exhibitions that did not feature specific artists and instead were open to submissions — and the Garden Show is the latest example of that.
"So we're hoping we have a lot of participation," she said.
Grenawalt said she expected 15 to 20 artists to take part, including potters Carla Allen and Fiona Clarke, and recycle artists Tanya Lawyer and Dick Bolli. Despite the show's name, she said, it will feature more just garden art.
"It's got a nature theme, so that includes the outdoors, animals, leaves — anything counts," she said.
The Garden Show will remain on display through Aug. 22
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