Potter Rex Alexander and his timeless art

By By Lance Traweek / American Press

Surprisingly, Rex Alexander did not know he was an artist until he turned 36. Before this he was a geology student who loved life, he said.

In 2002, he graduated from McNeese State University in ceramics. Then, he discovered pottery. “Now I love life even more,” he said.

“My interest in geology easily lends itself to my love of pottery. Like the earth is made of many minerals with lots of layering, so is pottery,” Alexander said. “First you have to make the pot, clay in your hands. Then you have to fire the pot in a kiln that’s hand-built, that mimics the earth’s internal temperature of 2,000-plus degrees.”

The next step is to use bare minerals such as iron, cobalt, tin, feldspar and silica to give color and texture to the pot.

“All the while, the pots require your attention, your presence,” he said. “The process is the love, and the love is the process.”

What is your style? What are the trends?

Because my focus is on the process, my style is simple. Most people like my style of pottery because I try imitating ancient-old styles that I love, that are timeless. My work is purely functional with lots of energy. This creates an intimacy in my pottery that people really respond to.

People recognize my pots, and experience an emotion when they hold them in their hands. Again, this goes back to the ancient necessity of pottery. The first thing was pottery. Iron and glass have been around a long time, but we measure the existence of civilizations by the complexities of their pottery. Our affinity with pottery is primal. And that’s what keeps me at my wheel.

What do you sale? What are some popular items?

Once I started making pots, there was

no stopping me. I’ve gone through tens of thousands of pounds of clay

and I want to

make more. Mostly I make large bowls and mugs. Occasionally,

people ask for specialty items. They ask for only one. But I

get on a roll, and I just can’t stop. Moonshine jugs, tea pots,

incense burners, flasks and chalices, you-name-it, are just

a few items that people have asked for. If someone asks for four

gumbo bowls, I’ll make 20. If they buy four, good for them.

Either way, I’ll keep eating gumbo and keep making pots. I’m more

of a non-commission artist. Typically, when people commission

me to make something, I insist up-front to make it my way. If they

like it in the end, that’s fantastic. We’ll both be happy.

If not, I’ll keep it or sell to someone who loves it.

How can someone purchase your merchandise?

With regards to selling pottery, my wife and I are at odds. She says I should sell the pots, or the attic full of pottery

will fall through the ceiling. I just keep making pots. Selling pottery has never really been my aim. However, when I see

that someone really loves the pot, I usually give it to them — even insist that they take it. I’m not here for the money;

I’m here to make pots. Recently, when I do sell pottery, it is through Stellar Beans. Occasionally, I exhibit and sell at

galleries or art festivals. But if you are really interested in buying my pottery, just contact me directly. Look me up in

the phonebook or Facebook. I’m old-new school.

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Send your Businesswise suggestions to Lance Traweek, American Press, P.O. Box 2893, Lake Charles, LA 70601; or email suggestions to ltraweek@americanpress.com .