Michele Quan of MQuan Studio makes ceramic art & objects for the home and garden. The pieces become a canvas for her love of drawing, painting, text and color. Many of the objects and images are rooted in the visual symbols of Eastern iconography, their meaning and beauty of which she is continuously in awe. MQuan pieces serve both as objects of contemplation and as a source of encouragement to inspire reverence.
Can you give us the short version of your journey to starting MQuan Studio?
My love of ceramics started in 1991 at a wheel throwing class in uptown NYC at the 72nd Street Y. The class planted an ongoing daydream/fantasy to be a ‘potter’. However, my path took me through 12 years of making jewelry, which I also love, then back again to a ceramics class at Greenwich House Pottery after the birth of my daughter in 2005, and voila, here I am.
Tell us a little about your studio practice and how it defines your brand:
I like to say that making ceramics is all physical labor & babysitting. There are many steps and many hands that work on each piece. Clay needs lots of time; to make, set up, dry, fire, paint, and to fire again. Reproducing multiples can put you in a space of being able let your mind roam while doing, which is a perfect creative spot for me.
What part of your process do you get lost in?
I never tire of reading and looking through books on symbolism.
Five things inspiring your creation process right now:
The seven water bowls offerings
Rainbow & Color!
Thick, deceptively simple slabs of clay
A song to describe your collection:
For some reason Neil Young’s ‘Borrowed Tune’ popped into my head. It’s a sad, beautiful song. I don’t see my work as sad, or borrowed, but there it was.
New York City is notoriously intense.
Do you ever feel run-down creatively?
How do you manage stress and balance wellness?
I moved to NYC in 1984 and my life here has been through many incarnations. At times I feel burnt out by the direction NYC seems to be moving in, and at other times I’m so inspired and appreciative of the creative energy the city stirs up. I love my moments of true NYC interactions that ‘spark joy’ and connect me to people that I might never meet in another place.
I practice yoga, listen to audio books & podcasts. I want to hike more! I love to hike.
You designed jewelry for a long time (and were a model too) – how do past professions influence you today?
The time I spent designing jewelry gave me a solid introduction to business and at the same time, I was able to develop and immerse myself in my creative process.
Best gift you ever received?