Tell us about yourself.
I’m an American artist living in Europe, exploring an old world aesthetic with clay and reclaimed antiquities. After studying fine art, working with numerous arts organizations and founding an arts agency in the U.S., I moved across the sea to Holland. Now in Europe, I live in the very footsteps of some of the greatest masters of European art. I run the Dutch landscapes painted by Paulus Potter and Jan van Goyen; drink my coffee in the cafés of Toulouse Lautrec’s Montmartre; sit and work in the slivers of golden light painted by Johannes Vermeer and Rembrandt van Rijn. I’ve made a home for myself here, and for my artistic path.
Apart from creating, what do you do?
I’ve fallen in love with the centuries-old bits of history I’ve found in tangible antiques — some dating to the 1600s — and in the stories these pieces carry. I’ve explored little villages across the continent and talked with remarkable villagers who have told me aged tales: the Rotterdam harbor worker who skimmed sugar and tobacco for his family during WWII; the frail woman who collected a house full of beautiful lace in France; the famous Royal Delftware potters in Holland; the flea-marketers selling generations of their families’ ancient keepsakes. Each piece offers a remarkable story and a chance to peer into a real moment in history. I’ve opened NOSTALGIEeurope to pass these precious relics on to customers who value their sentiment.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
All my life, even as a child, I’ve had the feeling of being an old woman looking with wisdom and humility back on her life. Each experience over the years has earned its own chapter heading, but I suppose I won’t know the title until the end.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Were it not for my luck in moving into a beautiful canal house from the 1600s, just steps away from Rembrandt’s childhood home, I may not have been inspired to work as an artist again. I think I owe my strong artistic ambition and sentiment to living in the footsteps of the painters of the Dutch Golden Age here in Holland. Spending every day in such close proximity to the works of Dutch masters, my fascination with old world Europe has really begun to drive me on a new artistic path. Each day, my atelier is filled with sights and sounds of tall-masted old sailboats and put-putting tugboats, and I’m only a short train ride from all the Parisian boutiques and vineyard-entangled chateaus I could possibly want for.
What does handmade mean to you?
The term “handmade” evokes imagery of calloused hands and well-used old tools. The traditional crafts nearly forgotten are in a sort of renaissance period today, and the trend of consuming en masse is turning toward the sentiment and creative process in handmade.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
My formal fine arts education in Wisconsin helped me to master the methods, materials, and history of art. My aesthetic roots originate in my childhood, which was spent in the workshop of a famed Norwegian-American Hardingfele luthier: my dad, Ron Poast. I shyly watched him building musical instruments, furniture, cars and even airplanes, and on special days I became his tiny apprentice.
When did you know you were an artist?
When I was just a few years old, I’m told, I was found rubbing a piece of sandpaper on my father’s violin after seeing him building musical instruments. While my dad probably didn’t appreciate my handiwork, my curiosity toward the arts was already clear.
How would you describe your creative process?
Inspired by the stony, distressed, mineral-stained and raw facades of the old houses in Europe, I create objects with textures that appear centuries old. The process is slow and laborious, but the romance and the effects of using the same kinds of pigments harnessed by the painters of the Dutch Golden Age — still ground today by a windmill here in Holland —are significant to my work.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsperson (dead or alive), who would it be?
I’d most love to see the workshops of my ancestors. It is said that we have a long line of creativity and ingenuity in our family, but not much is known about what they made or how they thought and worked.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I most cherish the beautiful Norwegian Hardanger fiddle (Hardingfele) my father made for me.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Creative overwhelm is a more likely a problem for me. In the rare moments in which I’m not creating, I’m an idea factory. My partner has said that instead of counting sheep at night, I count all the ideas running through my head.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I hope to be immersed in my work in an old stone farmhouse somewhere on the border of France and Switzerland. Along with my partner Yves, a Swiss neuroscientist and classical pianist, I’d like to raise a family and continue to travel the world for inspiration.