Maya Blume-Cantrell is an Alabama artist whose ideas are at play in the clay

Maya Blume-Cantrell says she was drawn to pottery because clay can be molded into anything you can imagine. [Photo Credit: Karim Shamsi-Basha | Alabama NewsCenter]

At the Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach, you might notice a gallery/studio space with functional pottery like bowls, mugs and plates, as well as sculptures.

The studio belongs to Maya Blume-Cantrell, an artist producing both types of pottery and teaching classes on her favorite subject.

“The functional pieces are made using a potter’s wheel, so everything starts with the symmetry and the circle. They are then thrown and carved while shaping the bottom and adding handles if they are going to be mugs,” Blume-Cantrell said. “The sculptural work is coil-built, which is basically rolling out long cylinders or snakes of clay about the size of my finger and adding them one layer at a time. With the coils, your form can be much more organic; you aren’t constricted by the circle.”

Blume-Cantrell began working with clay when she was in college. She was infatuated with how amorphous it was. She wasn’t restricted by the shape of wood or metal. She also loved the dichotomy of making soft organic shapes and hard geometric shapes out of the same medium.

“What I found intriguing about clay was the ability to make anything within your imagination. Almost all of my work is sold through the gallery here at the Coastal Arts Center. My sculptural work is featured in a couple of other galleries regionally. I have some work in Franklin, Tennessee, at Gallery 202; also in Robertson Gallery in Mobile,” Blume-Cantrell said.

A resident artist at the Coastal Arts Center, Blume-Cantrell enjoys the visual and performing arts center in the Gulf Coast region of the state. All the artists there strive to enrich the lives of residents and visitors through interactive exposure to local art.

“At the Coastal Arts, we teach classes on the wheel, as well as hand-building. We teach children’s and adult classes. Anything within your imagination that you want to make, we help you create it,” Blume-Cantrell said.

Both Blume-Cantrell and her husband, Nick Cantrell, are artists. She considers it a privilege to live and work together.

“My husband and I are very fortunate in that we have both reached a time in our lives where we can both be creative and make a living through our artwork. It’s very rewarding for someone to identify with a piece that I make, that they can find something that speaks to them in that piece,” Blume-Cantrell said.

Some of Blume-Cantrell’s work has been sent to exotic places, in addition to selling all over the South.

“I did some mugs for the captain of a ship that is based out of the Mediterranean. They started in Malta, came down through the Caribbean, raced up to Bermuda through the northeast Atlantic coast and they’re going to be cruising back. And yes, they made it through the Bermuda Triangle, but they would blame that on the rum,” Blume-Cantrell said with a laugh.

Republished with permission from the Alabama NewsCenter.