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. I update artist statements per show and body of work. My most recent several bodies of work involve nostalgia and homage to home and heritage, colloquiums, 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. Email me for those variations of artist statements. The statement below comes from my travel series. The travel series which is forever ongoing, is what made me reflect on home. With each place I go, I find I am constantly wanting to know more about origin stories, folklore, traditions, craft, decorative use of pattern, slang and local phrases. These underlying themes have become a tie that binds most of my work.
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 (Speak My Language, Appalachia NOW!, etc), please “holler.” I’m currently drafting a side project for the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote as well as continuing my research on folklore creatures, idiom origin stories, codes and communication methods, and curse words. I always have multiple ideas shelved for another day.
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 Iphone.
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