From her popular ceramic wall pods to her sculptural tree totems, Alice Ballard’s work is always about nature.
The artist: Born in Florence, SC, Ballard grew up in an Air Force family and lived all over the world. She earned degrees in painting at the University of Michigan, working as a scientific illustrator to put herself through school.
Ballard’s first full-time job after was as a curator of education at the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. The job prepared her to be a teacher at schools, museums and workshops at well-regarded art and craft centers. They include Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts (TN), Penland (NC) School of Craft and the Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities.
On the move: After living and working in Greenville, SC, for 22 years, she and her artist-architect husband recently moved to Clover, where they built a smaller home and maintain two separate studios.
The goods: Hand-built sculpture, with non-functional types of forms, mostly in clay. Also meditation bowls, which look like small sculptures and are as close to functional as Ballard gets in her work.
What’s popular: Wall pods, half pods and long pods ($1,000 to $1,500 each) in a range of colors and textures. Often people add to their collection. A client has commissioned six wall pods to add to their collection of four pods purchased at earlier shows.
Pods have long interested Ballard as a form and as a metaphor for the feminine, the womb and potential.
Also: Meditation bowls ($150 to $500) are pinched and formed from a single handful of clay. The lining is often glazed.
Other favorites: Tree totems ($4,000 to $9,000), her largest and most complex ceramic works.
Also: Her white work pieces ($50 to $4,800) from “A Walk Remembered,” a 2001 installation on one large pedestal at the Greenville County Museum of Art. Over time, the installation has grown and evolved as pieces are sold and more clay forms are added.
Fun request: Asked to travel to Hawaii last year to teach a workshop, “Finding Your Form in Nature,” for a client in her well-equipped home studio. The workshop is usually for eight to 12 people.
Big breaks: Solo exhibitions at the Mint Museum in Charlotte and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Both museums purchased her art for their permanent collection.
Claim to fame: The purchase of a piece of her art for the Renwick Gallery, a branch of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC.
What’s next: “She,” a large group show at the Blue Spiral 1 gallery in downtown Asheville, Sept. 4 through Oct. 30.
Also: “A Walk Remembered’ will be featured in a show at the March 2021 conference in Cincinnati of the Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts.
Get social at: aliceballard64 on instagram.