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2010 Collectors Issue

Noble Clay

A Bloomingdale potter proves Adirondack inspiration isn’t all twigs and bark

Photograph courtesy of Brooke Noble

Bloomingdale ceramicist Brooke Noble is something of an outlier in the Adirondack arts arena. After all, much of what you see in local galleries and craft stores is grounded in shaggy and twiggy textures, earthy hues and the hefty creatures and crags that inhabit the deep woods. Plus, pottery in these parts is often gritty, weighty stoneware. But Noble creates in porcelain, and seems to embrace the space above—fresh, airy treetop scenes in contemporary patterns—though she laughs about the recent appearance of a buck on a couple of her pieces. Her newish series You & I and Things That Fly celebrates the ornithological world, but also other Adirondack sky dwellers, like the military helicopters she spotted above Whiteface Mountain while snowboarding last spring.

Noble did her undergraduate work at Syracuse University, earned her master of fine arts degree from Southern Illinois University, and has exhibited in galleries across the country, from Vermont to Maryland to Florida to Arizona. She makes much of her work using a labor-intensive technique called Mishima (inlaying slip into incised lines), as well as screen-printing processes to achieve her funky designs. “Home” is often a theme, evident in her functional ves­sels and pillowlike forms.

That Noble should choose to make pieces that might appear on a tabletop—and that she’s a fine cook, according to friends—is no surprise: The 31-year-old grew up above a restaurant in an old Victorian house in New York’s Chautauqua County. “The social aspects of sharing a meal together have played a role in my life,” she says. As have “aesthetics with a good meal—the presentation.”

According to the artist, folks who buy her ceramics will often tell her, “‘Don’t worry, I’m not going to use it.’ And I say, ‘Why aren’t you going to use it?’ I encourage use—that’s part of the reason I make pots.”

Noble is a resident artist and ceramics studio manager at BluSeed Studios (518-891-3799, www.bluseedstudios.org), in Sar­anac Lake, and teaches ceramics classes at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts (518-523-2512, www.lakeplacidarts.org). Her work can be seen and purchased—cups run anywhere from $24 to $75—at the Fringe Artist Studio and Gallery (518-637-2649), on Saranac Lake’s Main Street.

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