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Fans of the ceramic arts likely know Sam Harvey because he has co-owned the successful Harvey/Meadows Gallery (first in Aspen Highlands and now in downtown Aspen) with fellow ceramist Alleghany Meadows since 2005. Or perhaps Harvey’s name rings a bell because he has been actively involved with the Anderson Ranch Arts Center since the mid-1990s.

What ceramophiles probably don’t know is that Harvey has been creating a new body of hand-built, sculptural ceramic work that has him, pun intended, fired up. “I don’t know why they are, but they need to be,” Harvey says of the pieces. “I’ve got to make them.”

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Last fall, while filling in for a professor on sabbatical at Colorado State University, Harvey found himself able to carve out dedicated studio time, and the sculptural pieces emerged. He emphasizes that they are not utilitarian: “The pieces are about volume, and the way things come together—the physical form, the integration of color, the balance and the imbalance.” They are also muscular, prominently showing the human hand, many of them imbedded with the artist’s fingerprints. There is symmetry, but there is always something slightly askew, challenging the viewer to question the form.

The physical process of making the pieces—hand-layering each coil and watching the pieces take shape “the way a snail builds its shell,” Harvey says—is an aspect he relishes. And while he has a sense of what he wants each piece to be when he begins, he also feels as if he is an observer as he builds it. The pieces are not predetermined, allowing them to evolve both deliberately and organically.

Harvey says that there are times in life when you “have to get behind your career and push.” This is that time for Harvey. The new work has exhibited at galleries in Grand Junction, Chicago, and Utah. It will show at Harvey/Meadows Gallery in early spring.

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