When Allison Haug is at work, she feels like a scientist. That’s because she is – the Wilmington resident is a biochemist at Dupont.
When she’s in her basement studio at night and on weekends, however, Haug is a ceramicist. But that doesn’t mean she rids herself of that scientific mentality while creating from clay—her artistic focus is on how people respond to everyday material, such as bubble wrap or corrugated cardboard, when it’s translated into clay.
She found ceramics by chance. In the summer of 2000, while an undergraduate in biochemistry at the University of Delaware, Haug needed to take an elective. She liked art, and a ceramics class both interested her and was scheduled at a convenient time.
Her interaction with classmates and the materials felt natural. Biochemistry requires technical knowledge; likewise, the glazing stage of ceramics calls for a knowledge of chemistry. That background, she says, allows her to create glazes that are more beautiful than if she didn’t have it.
She was attracted to sculpting by the process. A clay project, once started, requires immediacy, and that, Haug says, differs from painting or drawing.
“I can not touch [a painting or drawing] for weeks and it’ll be fine to come back to,” the 28-year-old says. “But the clay, if I’m not looking at it every day or every other day, or if I don’t pay attention to wrap it up tight enough because I know I’m not going to be able to get back to it—that process that’s required to work with it, it just really interests me. Since I am a scientist, I’m used to working within certain conditions.”
Trial and error are integral to her process, akin to the scientific method. And when items don’t turn out as planned, she often saves pieces of the projects. In turn, they might inspire a future work.
“The pieces speak back,” Haug says.
She used the Delaware Division of the Arts individual grant to buy a used kiln so she can fire items in her own studio. (She had been experiencing a lot of breakage in transition.) She also bought a new pottery wheel so she can make functional wares.
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