Carolyn Ford was born in middle Tennessee deeply influenced by Southern oral culture of storytelling, exaggerations, yarns, and colorful southernisms. After a childhood in the suburbs outside of Nashville amongst the children of country music stars, her father decided to move the family to their pre-Civil War family farm. With the combination of the creativity from the songwriters’ lyrics, her Grandmother’s Weekly World News papers, and the rural yarns spun, she began to expand upon her own stories. As an avid traveler, she relishes learning odd folklore of each place she experiences thus attempting to sneak in some humor or stretch the truth in her art.
Ford attended Middle Tennessee State University where she earned her BFA with an emphasis in Ceramics, Drawing, and Painting. There she studied abroad and exhibited in Italy. She then earned her MFA from Washington State University in Ceramics and Drawing where she studied under Ann Christenson and Patrick Siler. Ford, Professor of Art at Limestone University, currently lives in Gaffney, South Carolina with her husband Logan Richardson and their dogs. She served as the Chair of the Art Department and Gallery Manager at Limestone University (previously College) from 2010-2020. During the 2021-22 academic year, she will have a new roll as Art Department Program Manager. She enjoys teaching a wide range of courses from drawing, ceramics, crafts, to sculpture.
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It's hard for me to constantly update my webpage since I stay super busy. Forgive me. My most recent several bodies of work involve nostalgia and homage to home and heritage, colloquialisms, slang, and phrases common in the southeast (Southernisms). I find a duality in what we want people to perceive as proper versus the colorful exaggerated and often irreverent phrases said behind the barn. Two variations of artist statements can be found below. One comes from my travel series, which is forever ongoing, and made me reflect on home. With each place I go, I find I am constantly wanting to know more about origin stories, idioms, folklore, traditions, craft, decorative use of pattern, slang and local phrases, codes and communication methods (often including inappropriate phrases). These underlying themes have become a tie that binds most of my work. I always have multiple ideas of a new series shelved for another day. The second artist statement is from another ongoing series related to southeastern phrases. Originally called Southernisms, I have come to find out the origins and spread of such quips goes far beyond the southeast. It's an easy rabbit hole of information.
Artist Statements evolve per series and pulled collection. I admit that I have been too preoccupied with making and teaching art than to update my webpage. If you would like the statements for upcoming or previous exhibitions (Curse Words are Stupid, Appalachia NOW!, etc), please “holler.”
Artist Statement for ceramic low relief travel series:
Go To…Go By…
Ceramic Works by Carolyn Ford
I work with clay as a cathartic response to my tangent-filled thoughts. Creating low relief carved disks acts as a form of communication. The physicality of working with clay, the risk and surprise, and flexibility of the medium are all part of the process. This series represents my wanderlust. After summer travels, I reflect on the importance of experiences. To learn through experience surpasses all. We often are told that we must see what others call a “wonder of the world” yet I am just as impressed with culture, crafts, food, mythology, and landscape. Travel fills one with ideas as well as appreciation of home. My disks or tile works are unified by the use of the circle or tondo format: a portal, a cycle, a form, and a repeated pattern. I draw inspirations from southern traditions of storytelling as I exaggerate experiences and thoughts in works with images. This series depicts places I have been and modes of transportation. This is an unfinished series. As long as I live, I will need to see, taste, experience, and go. I will infuse all I learn in teaching my students.
“I urge you to travel
as far and as much as possible.
Work ridiculous shifts to earn you money.
Go without the latest I-phone.
Throw yourself out of your comfort zone.
Find out how other people live and realize that the world is a much bigger place than the town you live in.
And when you come home,
home may still be the same,
and yes, you may go back to the same old job,
but something in your mind will have shifted.
And trust me,
That changes everything.” –Anonymous
“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page. “ –St. Augustine
“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on the list. “ –Susan Sontag
“Traveling—it leaves you speechless then turns you into a storyteller.” –Ibn Battula
Speak My Language by Carolyn Ford
September -December 2020 in the SCC Library Gallery
Deeply influenced by history, modes of communication, and irreverent tales, this body of work investigates bygone colloquialisms. Often frowned upon, many of these phrases are not considered polite conversation yet are present from region to region.
From the veiling of insults to the long-winded descriptive banter, I find humor in the sarcasm. By using the sgraffito technique to “scratch away” from the clay, I create a surface characteristic of a relief print. The utilitarian plate form is reminiscent of traditions surrounding food and conversation. The unifying circle represents cycles and portals as our vernacular evolves. By immortalizing these nostalgic expressions in an image, I pay homage to these clever quips.