Maker/Mentor 2018 Featured Artist: Neil Laperriere

July 16, 2018

Hawaiian Skink, c. 1989, ceramic, Neil Laperriere
Neil Laperriere was only about four years old when he tagged along with his older sister to a class at Pewabic. He worked diligently to create a colorful Haitian Skink lizard like the one they had at home. He thought he nailed it.
 
"I was super proud of it. In my little kid mind, it came out perfectly. It was a masterpiece. Until it was fired in the kiln. That’s kind of where the story begins,” says Laperriere, who years later came to work at Pewabic and now is Quality Control Specialist. “I had everything right, everything the way I wanted it to be, but clay has a mind of its own.”
 

The fledgling ceramicist hadn’t yet mastered the skills that can make or, well, break a clay sculpture and so his reptile lost several toes, and an eyeball during the firing process. His sister saw an opportunity to tease her dejected sibling. “She told me it wasn’t a Haitian Skink because they had all their toes and two eyes, says Laperriere, “though ironically our Haitian Skink Dot was missing a leg.” Laperriere spun that his creation was a lesser-known Hawaiian Skink, which, he explained, run so fast that parts come off.

Neil Laperriere and his sister Anne, 1989

 

Fast forward fifteen years -- Laperriere attended Rochester Institute of Technology in New York to study metal and jewelry design, graduating in 2007. When his former college roommate moved to California to work with his own craft of photography, Laperriere realized he too needed a change. He applied for a job in the fabrication department at Pewabic in 2008 and is now Quality Control Specialist, inspecting works as they come out of the kiln. A silversmith by trade turned visual artist, Neil Laperriere has a unique perspective on art and what has led him to where he is today.

“I’m Pewabic’s goalie. Practically everything Pewabic produces goes through my gate, whether it’s giftware or architectural. Not to be biased, but I genuinely have the best job here,” says Laperriere, who calls his work a privilege. “I’m convinced I see more Pewabic than everyone, at least finished goods,” he says. “It’s my job to delve into our entire output, quite literally. It’s amazing.”

The fact that he found his way back to one of the places that possibly launched his life as an artist isn’t lost on Laperriere. “I think chance is infinite. I think if you’re living a true life where you’re supposed to be there are infinite possibilities. I’ve lived my best life and it led me here. In hindsight, I don’t want to be anywhere else.”

Neil Laperriere, Quality Control Specialist




Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.


Also in Blog

Historic Inspiration for Pewabic's Hex Paperweight
Historic Inspiration for Pewabic's Hex Paperweight

August 20, 2020 1 Comment

Our entire team was eager to reveal the newest hand-painted addition to our paperweight collection prior to the launch of this year’s 2020 Summer Catalog. The new Hex Paperweight was inspired by long-standing favorites piece from our archival collection, two glaze test hexagons.

View full article →

Inside The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer
Inside The Church of the Most Holy Redeemer

August 13, 2020 5 Comments

View full article →

Black Lives Matter.
Black Lives Matter.

June 05, 2020

BLACK LIVES MATTER.

Pewabic has operated in Detroit for over a century. We recognize the inequity our Black community faces on a daily basis and we share the grief and horror following the recent killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and far too many others.

The challenges currently facing this nation are severe and will require all of us working together to overcome. But progress will only be made when we recognize that the pain and suffering has not been equally shared. Black Lives Matter. We stand with those calling for an end to racism and injustice. We know that we have much more work to do ourselves, but we will continue our efforts to build an organization that is welcoming to and fully reflective of Detroit's diverse community.

We’ve been mostly quiet this week, listening, but we believe that art can be a powerful vehicle for understanding. In that spirit, we wanted to share some of the work being created by Kyle and Kelly Phelps, two of our favorite artists working in clay.

 

View full article →