What: 4 Bridges Arts Festival
When: April 14-15
Where: First Tennessee Pavilion
Admission: $7 one day, $10 both days, free to ages 17 and younger
For more information: 4bridgesartsfestival.org
Chris Pickett is preparing to show his pottery in a festival for the first time, and what an auspicious debut it will be.
Pickett is one of four artists selected as the 2012 Emerging Artists in the prestigious 4 Bridges Arts Festival. The remaining three are Dana Fehsenfeld and Veva Edelson, both of Bakersville, N.C., and Rose Henderson of Carthage, Tenn., according to the Association for Visual Arts' website. AVA sponsors the annual spring arts festival.
Emerging Artist awards are open to applicants living within a 300-mile radius of Chattanooga. The scholarship is not meant to jump-start a career but is available to artists who have developed a cohesive body of work.
Pickett, 41, said he was inspired to try his hand in ceramics after taking a class from Mary Lynn Portera in 1997. He has sold pieces privately for several years but has never shown a collection in a festival or other public event. That's why he chose to apply for an emerging artist award.
"I felt it was a great opportunity to test the waters of high-end art festivals as well as establish a presence in the local art community," the Brainerd resident said.
"I feel fortunate to be able to debut my work in the company of so many great artists that 4 Bridges attracts, and to do it in my hometown is just icing on the cake," he said.
Pickett hand-builds cups, plates, teapots, covered jars, serving trays and bowls from white stoneware. His functional pieces are fired to approximately 2200 F in an electric kiln.
"My pieces take anywhere from one to five hours to make and from 30 minutes to several hours to glaze, depending on the complexity of the form and surface treatment," Pickett said.
His pieces sell for $28 to $825.
Pickett said the allure of working in ceramics is not just functionality but the intimacy of the work.
"Some of its most intimate uses are often given the least thought. Someone might not hesitate to spend $50 on a necktie, but the thought of spending that same amount on a cup you will press to your lips day in and day out doesn't get that same consideration.
"This is a medium that allows the artist to interact with the daily routines of the buyer," he explained.