Focus/“The Arts”/Santa Fe

“Spinning on a Perfect Axis:
David Carter Finds Passion in Form and Finish”

by Gussie Fauntleroy

January/February/March 2001

The similarities between figure skating and creating exquisite wheel-thrown porcelain sculpture may not be obvious to most of us. But Santa Fe-based artist David Carter has learned that a key to mastery in both is intense concentration and precision alignment that keeps the spin on a perfectly centered axis, without the slightest hint of wobble.

On ice, this alignment produces a spin so graceful and smooth, it looks effortless. In the studio, Carter keeps the porcelain perfectly centered on the ceramicist’s wheel, causing it to spin so cleanly on its axis that flawless symmetry results.

There’s another parallel as well. From the first days of each endeavor, Carter understood that he was touching a deep part of himself, tapping and developing innate ability that would lead to challenging, exciting adventures.

He was right. On skates for the first time at five, he competed nationally until age 16, when a broken ankle encouraged him to return to normal teen life for awhile. Immediately after high school, he was recruited by the Ice Follies and began a six-year international career in professional figure skating. Then he built a successful business, providing performance-arts training at schools in Las Vegas, Nevada.

When he realized the material world wasn’t feeding his soul, Carter returned to school to become an art therapist. As part of his course-work he took a ceramics class. Immediately, he knew something big was going on.

Since then, constant experimentation and a driving passion have led him to phenomenal technical mastery and elegant expression. At the same time, a strongly intuitive need for balance and beauty in his life led him to settle in Santa Fe. And while he works daily in his studio, the artist also has returned to figure skating, with an eye to competing once more.

Carter’s graceful porcelain vessels and sculpture are known for their striking, non-traditional finishes, which he achieves through various stains, metal dust blended in latex, and black and red lacquers. The works have the appearance of fine wood, metal, or glass, rather than ceramics, and the handsome form of the piece is not lost under the thickness or texture of a glaze.

“The challenge is: I can draw this out and visualize it, but is it possible to create it in clay?” Carter often asks himself. “That challenge is the thrill for me.”

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