Helping A Studio Be A Place of Healing | Shelly Fredenberg | Episode 811

Shelly Fredenberg | Episode 811

Shelly is a ceramic artist living in Eugene, Oregon. Her work is a tribute to the natural world, its dynamic processes and im/possibilities. She believes an artist’s work and life are not separate and she approaches the entirety with authenticity, simplicity, curiosity, and responsibility– to the earth and her heart.


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I am curious about how you have been able to make your studio your healing space. Nature seems to be a big source of inspiration for you.  How important is nature to you and to healing?

So again, growing up in Montana in a chaotic home I would escape outside and I would be making things out of sticks and collecting stones. I always had my pockets full of treasures  and I still do that actually. But if I don’t get outside every day I feel that I am just not right and not centered. And then I do get out and everything that I see and smell and encounter and experience out in nature is a part of me and I bring that with me into the studio.

Do you put meaning into your pieces as you create?

So the meaning, it’s a feeling. So when I first started my practice it was definitely for healing even though I didn’t actually know that’s what it was for.  And now it’s about just this joy and contentment that I have, and so the meaning is the feeling that goes into it. I sell my work at shows and I have the privilege  of watching people react to my work. And on numerous occasions, I call this human magic or people magic, I have watched people have quiet moments with my work and then describe to me how they didn’t understand why they were feeling what they were feeling, but somehow they had to stop and they had to hold it and they had to look at is closer.

What kinds of things do you listen to while you are making?

oh, good question. So I listen to everything. I love music. I love live music. My dad was an old time fiddler. I grew up with Americana, so I will listen to everything from real old country to contemporary French pop music and everything in between.

Do you have a story line that goes with the creature you are making?

No, again, it’s a relationship. I’m having a conversation. Not a story, I don’t where it lives, I don’t know what sound it makes. I can’t put good words to that because it’s not about words it’s just about the feeling.

I noticed that you make animals that are somewhat peaceful. Does your choice of what you are making indicate where your mind is?

I live in eternal optimism. I always have and I think that is what got me here through my childhood. I saw enough violence. I saw enough violence. My work is not about that. Yeah, I don’t need to work through any of that. Now it’s just the radical presence I have with the clay.

Where do you see your creatures taking you?

I think the creatures want to be more present in the world. They want to move from being so small to growing a little bit bigger and a little bit, I don’t know the word, just prouder, more confident.


Finding One’s Way with Clay


Instagram: @shellyfredenbergstudio

Angelia S. Rico

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