Chuck Solberg is a nationally recognized clay artist based in St. Paul. Working with stoneware and porcelain clay, he creates functional tableware and large, sculptural pieces. The larger pieces are frequently constructed from separately thrown clay sections that are joined together and then distorted by paddling. The seams and joints from this construction process are left exposed to visually break up the surface of the piece. “In both functional and sculptural work,” states the artist, “my goal is to accent the inherent spontaneity and raw beauty of clay. Wood firing achieves this objective. Flame and ash flow through the kiln leaving unexpected patterns and rich surfaces.”
In the 1970s, Chuck was an associate potter at Abe Cohn’s Potters Wheel Studio in Wisconsin. In the 1990s, he earned a BFA in ceramics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an MFA in ceramics from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. He established his own studio in 1995 and in 1996 was awarded a Jerome Grant in 1996 for his work with saggar firing. Over the years, he has served as an instructor and workshop leader at schools and art centers nationwide. Chuck’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis; The Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul; the University of Wisconsin and numerous private collections.
A talented keyboardist, Chuck has toured professionally with Luther Allison, shared billing with legends including Miles Davis, played with BB King’s band, The Shirelles, Muddy Waters, and Chuck Berry, among others. He currently serves as The Grand Hand’s “house band,” providing live music at gallery openings and events.
“I work much like a jazz musician, improvising on a theme, not knowing where the improvisation will lead. The construction and firing of my work is unpredictable and spontaneous. I strive to keep these qualities in the finished pieces. Someone asked Duke Ellington, ‘What is jazz?’ He replied, ‘It’s the sound of surprise.’ To paraphrase Ellington, I want my work to have the look of surprise – the look and feel of spontaneity.”