CAC Featured Artist: Connor McGinn
Connor McGinn is Clay Art Center’s Featured Artist in The Shop at CAC and on our website through November. McGinn first started taking ceramics classes in high school, and continued to take classes at Chapman University in California. Having always liked working with his hands to create something, he started working as a line cook post college, and then was hired to make dinnerware for his restaurant. He is now highly sought after by many of the top farm-to-table restaurants in the tri-state area, such as Blue Hill at Stone Barns, to make custom tableware for their establishments.
Part of McGinn’s process upon being commissioned to design tableware for a restaurant is to pay a visit to get a complete sense of the space. He does everything from ordering food to seeing how it is plated and served, to taking note on the design and style of the restaurant. “Paying attention to the detail of the space is helpful, from the ceiling tiles, to the fabric of the chairs, to the specific style of the food the chef is serving. It helps us to design pieces that will fit the individual style of the restaurant,” says McGinn. However, part of the fun for him is helping restaurants with problem solving. In an industry where extra hands can be hard to come by, he recalls an instance where he had to come up with a creative approach to design a tableside sauce pourer that hangs off of the side of a bowl while walking it to the table. This would allow the servers to have an extra free hand to carry other items. “It’s times like this when the aesthetics and functionality of a piece have to work together that the process is at its best,” says McGinn.
McGinn was recently named the “Hot Potter” by Westchester Magazine and his tableware is coveted by visitors to the Shop at CAC. His work is also quite popular with brides and grooms, as he offers wedding registries for couples who wish to own custom one-of-a-kind dinnerware.
He recently crafted dinnerware for Clay Art Center’s Dinner for ALL, which was held in the gallery with the artists from the exhibition. Because of ALL’s focus on humans and the environment, he made all of the tableware with reclaimed and recycled clay and glaze. Materials that otherwise would have been destined for the trash were transformed into beautiful pieces of functional art. Patrons of the dinner were able to take home a set of his dishes.
McGinn has been a familiar face at CAC for many years, working out of his studio. Part of the reason he has stayed is because of the community within. “Clay Art Center is a community filled with an endless amount of knowledge and an incredible willingness to share it,” says McGinn. He admits that he’s still learning, and if he doesn’t know something, someone else at Clay Art Center does.