Larry Allen, a household name in the great state of Alabama is making his dreams come alive using his bare hands. Literally, his bare hands. Larry Allen is a clay potter who uses his imagination to create shapes. He sits at his throne, or his potter’s wheel and throws his favorite clay until those shapes are out of his head, into his hands. The Birmingham Museum of Art hosted the artist for a two-day event, including a lecture and a live demonstration. Thanks to the admiral manager of Public Programs & Partnerships, Carey Fountain, HypeFresh was able to get a little VIP time with the artist. Sitting from the balcony of the auditorium at the Birmingham Museum of Art, HypeFresh watched Mr. Larry Allen as he lectured to a very diverse audience.
Larry Allen’s Pottery Lecture
Mr. Allen stood before a podium signaling hand gestures that he paired with wise banter about his life-long career as a clay craftsman. A screen projection slideshow revealed individual clay vessels. Each vessel had its own unique story, justifying Larry’s right of respect. He spoke of his very first piece, a coffee mug, as it flashed across the projector.
Larry is an artist who trusts his intuition, and is confident in his craft. He preached about the art of not allowing opinions to ruin an idea.
“I don’t care what people think about my work—artists have to block out a lot”.
Undoubtedly, the artist knows his craft and his work.
“Forms are always important to me.”
Again, the artist uses his instinct to birth unique pieces with their own singularities. Although he is a perfectionist, he’s humbled by the beauty of each piece.
The following day, Carey escorted HypeFresh to Mr. Larry Allen as he sat at his potter’s wheel in the back of the room. A small crowd gathered around him as he humbly answered questions. Sitting with Mr. Allen was indeed a monumental experience, getting to know a southern legend. He chatted with HypeFresh for a few moments, smiling a bit before and after every question. Larry basked in his glory humbly, happy to help wide-eyed beginners on their pottery journey.
Mr. Allen begins his story at Berea College in Kentucky—this is his first encounter with someone throwing clay. Becoming enamored by fascination, he started an apprenticeship program. From then, he became a production potter, selling his creations on campus. He spoke of the large learning curve when it comes to throwing clay.
After graduating college, he came up with a clay body, firing it in a gas kiln. Cone 10 reduction was then the most popular technique. Larry recollected building his own kiln; however, the gas line didn’t have enough pressure. Decidedly, Mr. Allen trusted his instincts and substituted stoking with wood. Although his attempt was clever, the kiln would never gain consistent firing. Then he discovered electric firing and fell in love with black clay.
More On the Clay Master
As his skills progress, he experiments with certain patterns. After 9/11 he began etching unity symbols on every one of his designs. We began discussing his piece’s cameo in the upcoming Black Panther sequel and how fate just happens. Zucot, an art gallery in Atlanta, was hosting an interview for Stacey Abrams, when his pieces were seen on national television. Black Panther production purchased three of his pieces including one of his most prized pieces, “The Cauldron” being the most visible in the movie.
Before the passing of Harper Lee, she visited Birmingham. During her visit, she was gifted a piece thrown by Larry Allen, which made headlines.
Lastly, Larry offered some simple sound advice— stay with it. Unless his hands become involuntarily idle, he never plans to quit. He is a combustion of new ideas, some he is working on, some still floating in his head.
Contact Larry on Facebook: Larry Allen
Email: [email protected]