Editor's note: Interviewer, Bryan Czibez begins by asking Nick Moen to talk about his background and the context of what The Bright Angle does in relationship to the more traditional forms that come from the hills of Asheville, North Carolina.
I signed up for auto tech, my freshman year of high school, and it was full, so they stuck me in ceramics. I was bummed, because I wanted to work on cars and motorcycles and stuff. [laughs] But I got in ceramics, and I realized that one of my favorite parts about the entire ceramics experience is the community. So I was in this class where I literally got to hang out and mold malleable material around into forms and sculptures; and then i could just hang out with my friends and talk. And the people involved in that process, through my entire career, have been some of the most interesting and special people I’ve met along the way.
I was going to do engineering at Alfred. When I transferred in, I got kind of bored with engineering. It wasn’t boring. It just wasn’t incredibly stimulating. There were not a lot of dynamic options or problem solving methods for a lot of the answers. There was always one answer that was logical. And so I couldn’t find a way to create enough problems for myself, I guess, which has been the heart of my creative practice. So, switching into the ceramic design/material science program at Alfred, and completing the program there, was beneficial in learning how to create problems for myself, which is an easy thing to do with ceramics. It is pretty masochistic. We have all got the same problem, I guess.
And then, I didn’t quite know what I was going to do when I graduated, so I packed up my Prius, drove around the country for a few months, and I ended up in Asheville, North Carolina. I ended up going out and helping Matt Kelleher and Shoko Teruyama for a while, because Matt was going to teach at Penland. So Asheville was my introduction to the western North Carolina region, but then Penland School of Craft. In the first two years that I lived down here, I spent about eighteen weeks there. I assisted David Eichelberger and Matt Kelleher, Heather Mae Erickson, and got hooked in with the community there, and it was a good reflection of some of the parts that I like about Asheville, too. If I needed some metal today or metal, woodworking, or glassblowing done, I could send them a file. The metalworker I work with has a plasma cutter. Then I know a few woodworkers with CNC mills and laser cutters; and so, for a person with a design mentality, this was a sweet place to be....