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Throwing pots, creating art: Lake City artist finds functionality in ceramics

Kate Bauman, hard at work in her home studio in Lake City, tries to itch her creative scratch between substitute teaching and raising her two kids with ceramics. Bauman makes an assortment of different types of mugs and bowls, as well as sculpting when she has the time. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Bauman creates a variety of bowls and mugs in her ceramics business. With her kiln at home, Bauman can keep herself busy coming up with a many different options. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia2 / 4
Kate Bauman doesn't mind getting her hands dirty in the name of art. That's what drew Bauman to clay, having a chance to form and create something with her hands excites her. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia3 / 4
Bauman creates a variety of bowls and mugs in her ceramics business. With her kiln at home, Bauman can keep herself busy coming up with a many different options. Matthew Lambert / RiverTown Multimedia4 / 4

While it may not have been how she envisioned her art career, Kate Bauman loves to sink her hands into some clay.

Bauman, who grew up in Lake City and returned to the area in the mid-2000s, revels in the physical, textural elements of art. It's about getting her hands dirty.

"I fell in love with clay because I just love the feel of it," Bauman said. "You can transform it into just about anything."

Bauman has tried many different forms of art, including painting or drawing, but said she always finds herself adding those textural elements.

Predominantly as a sculptor and creating mixed media presentations, Bauman studied studio art at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and received her graduate degree from the University of Georgia.

Bauman still does both art forms, but has found ceramics to be the artistic itch she can scratch while balancing out a home life with her two children.

With a designated art studio in her home and a kiln out in the garage, Bauman balances the family life, as well as substitute teaching in Lake City, with creating varieties of pots and mugs.

While ceramics doesn't carry the same emotional weight that sculpting does for Bauman, she looks at it in a different way, a more technical approach.

How would someone use this mug or pot? If it's a mug, can she fit her hand in it so she can wash it? What about making it fit in the dishwasher? What makes it compelling?

"What would attract me to this (mug) rather than the other ones in my cabinet?"

The mugs and bowls are about functionality, but still give Bauman a chance to release some of that artistic energy.

Bauman will have a picture in her mind, an outcome for whatever type of ceramic she's going to create. The ceramics don't usually have a theme, but she's thought about doing more specific types of ceramic like a line of coffee mugs for a coffee shop or a little girl tea set.

During art school, Bauman said she saw herself doing more art shows, but has found the shows she is doing now, selling her hard work, is rewarding as well.

Bauman will be selling her ceramics during the St. Mary's Holiday Fair at St. Mary's Church in Lake City on Dec. 1 and at the Anderson Center Winter Art Event on Dec. 8. For more dates, visit her Facebook page.

Bauman admits that running a small business can be difficult. Between raising her children and teaching, deadlines can creep up on her and, logistically, the mug or bowl she's trying to make doesn't always turn out.

"It's a different stress when you're relying on a kiln," Bauman said. "And it comes out sometimes fabulous and other times I gotta re-fire like six of these big bowls."

But when things get difficult, Bauman doesn't let it get her down.

"I guess, maybe, it's just the artist mentality where I kind of feel like maybe I can't work full-time in my studio on this, maybe I still have to have some supplemental income, but I'm sure as heck going to try to make this where I spend most of my time," Bauman said.

Needless to say, when you buy a mug from Bauman, she hopes leaves an impact on the drinker, but also hopes it can stand out among the others in the cupboard.

Bauman's ceramics are always available for sale, just contact her on the Kate Bauman Ceramics Facebook page.

Matthew Lambert

Matthew Lambert joined the Red Wing Republican Eagle in March 2018 covering school board, public safety, and writing features. Lambert previously wrote for the Pierce County Herald and River Falls Journal. He is a graduate of Winona State University with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication: Journalism. 

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