Who are you and what do you do?
Hello! My name is James Anthony Peters, but call me Tony. I attended and graduated at John Herron School of Art in Indianapolis, Indiana with a B.F.A. in Furniture Design and Woodworking with a minor in Ceramics and Geology. I also went through the M.F.A. program at Arizona State University in Ceramics. I am currently the exhibits designer / fabricator and collections manager for Mesa Historical Society, as well as a full time artist.
How did you get your start?
I suppose, like most, drawing was my start. I drew from life, usually upside down. I saw it as a challenge that would become necessary for abstract drawing. Growing up, I took to legos, erector sets, girders and panels, etc… and loved the constructive process. I made the goofiest things, and that was cool. Fast forward to getting into undergraduate school, I went into woodworking and sculpture immediately.
The constructivist mentality was well suited for this. I spent all nighters trying to figure out specific ways of joining materials. I became obsessed with Japanese joinery, bent laminations and so forth. This is where the craft and art became synonymous. So, just when I thought this was gonna keep me busy forever, I found ceramics! The nature of the material was elusive at first. It slumped, bent, fell apart and it pissed me off! It was my job to figure it out!
I came up with a constructive process that was a lot like masonry but on a micro level. I would build with a series of small “rips” of clay, that would be built from the ground up. It evolved into making sculptures that would become 500-600 pound pieces! I had to make smaller works if I wanted to fire them. I began making my own clay bodies that would accommodate this process of making, adding colorants and various additives that would enhance the piece.
To complete my hoop jumping degree, I decided to take geology as a science course. I never “scienced” that much in high school but this course combined what I was doing in ceramics with an awesome professor that made this a nice distraction. When I finished my undergrad, my portfolio had more ceramics than furniture. I decided to take the plunge and apply to grad programs for ceramics. I found out that ASU had lovely, giant kilns that I could fire these large works! I came, made my work and decided to stay! I thought about returning back to Chicago but it’s too damn cold and I hate to shovel snow! It’s that simple!
What inspires you?
My point of view about inspirations is quite cynical. My early years of ooohs and aaahs have become more of a the how’s and why’s of making. Inspirations are merely an appealing “tug” of interest. I’m inspired by many things but it only counts when you bring it in the studio.
What do you like about AZ?
AZ is fundamentally beautiful, surreal in many places and hot sometimes! It’s also homogenized, culturally partitioned and disgustingly conservative!
Where can we see you(r) work?
You can view my work at Royse Contemporary in Old Town Scottsdale, Instagram and Facebook at James Anthony Peters.
What would you like to accomplish before you die?
I would like to create interactive environments that make the viewer think, feel, and act!
What is your mantra?
“Inspiration only goes so far. You have to work hard to transcend that ideal and bring it to life!”