Interview with Artist Gerit Grimm

By Catherine Parker Sweatt ‘12Staff Writer

Gerit Grimm is a ceramist who served as a visiting professor at Pitzer College this past fall. Born in the former German Democratic Republic, Gerit has traveled widely across America and is currently artist-in-residence at CSU-Long Beach.

Catherine Parker Sweatt: The 67th Ceramic Annual is called Making Fun. How do you make fun?

Gerit Grimm: I think the fun comes naturally. I do not really intentionally play fun into it. I guess the narration I use for the doll characters, and the colors, and the subject matters, it all comes together as something and across as something rather fun.

CPS: What do you like about your students in Claremont?

GG: Sometimes I love my Pitzer students because they are super smart. Sometimes I think they are even smarter than me. They were really receptive, because they suck all the knowledge in and they made wonderful work, even if they hadn’t touched clay before or taken a really serious art class.  It was really inspiring to be one-on-one. And I think that to be in art class, you get to know a person very well, because what they build on or what they make or what they bring to the project is all personal.  I just thought it was wonderful teaching here. I would love to do it again.

CPS: You have spoken about how you are trying to get to know yourself and art is one way you learn. What have you learned this past fall in your development as an artist?

GG: Living in California made me rethink everything I do, to stay more focused because there is so much to do here, and thus, I want to take advantage of all my free time. So it is not that I work less, but I work more efficiently and I am happier with the pieces because the pieces have more “story” to them and definitely the work is more interesting for me because my mindset is on the sunny side here.

CPS: You also say that everything is a representation of you. Do you have a favorite portrayal of you? Or are you all of you combined?

GG: If I were to describe myself, the pigtails always come in as a point in my life because I loved my pigtails. And then, they are just characters of myself because it’s my life and it’s my fantasy, and it’s my experience so they could be me or they couldn’t be me, but they are all part of me. What is always really interesting, and I don’t know where it comes from, is that they always seem to be enchanted and look like fairy tales and I don’t know if it has anything to do with my background or my name Grimm, like the Brothers Grimm, but it could just be my upbringing in a country which was so closed off. Having a happy childhood, no worries about materialism and then all the folky stuff we looked at, what my mom collected, may have inspired this. Any of that sparkle and over the top stuff is amazing to me now. Before, I had all the basic stuff. The aesthetics were nothing.  Just pure stuff, just the soap without the wrapping paper, and you would sew your own bag to go to the store and load it all in. It was so ecological and hippie how I grew up that now the total opposite, consumerism, is pretty interesting to me. But I am not addicted to it, I just like to watch it.

CPS: You say you live your dreams in clay. What would you stay to students working in ceramics (or any art) or at the Claremont Colleges at large about living their dreams?

GG: That’s the thing with Claremont students. I think they are really worried that they have to support themselves, that they have to have a certain income to make life work, but honestly I have learned from the people that I have met and the way that I live that if you follow your heart and always do what you want to do, life goes really easily. It’s amazing.

See Gerit Grimm’s work now until April 3. The Ruth Chandler Williamson Gallery is open from 1:00 - 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday through Sunday.