Who is Kirsten Morehead?
In 2016, she became a mom. She named her son Arthur after the book, The Once and Future King by T.H. White. Motherhood inspired her to leave the corporate world and transition into teaching visual art for Tulsa Public Schools. Her experience working exclusively at Title 1 schools in the greater Tulsa area allowed her -and her students- to turn pennies into masterpieces. Often working with a minimal budget provided for art supplies, she and her students turned toilet paper rolls, scrap fabric, cardboard, and anything else they could get their hands on into masterpieces!
In 2022, in the aftermath of the global pandemic's effects on public education, her loving husband encouraged her to work as hard for herself and her art as she often did for other people. She decided to take him up on his advice and pursue her passions. The sky was the limit!
As an homage to her son and his namesake, Once & Future Things was born! A nomenclature that encapsulates all the different art forms she explains. What is the creative process other than turning what was once one thing into something new?
About Once & Future Things
I’m Kirsten Morehead. I believe that art is influential, that everyone can be an artist, and that tolerance for failure and a willingness to persevere through it are vital ingredients to a fulfilled life.
I spent five years teaching art to kids in Tulsa Public Schools. Every day, I saw kids whose personal circumstances felt insurmountable. To them, failure meant they wouldn’t ever have any chance at success: In the school system, the job market, and life.
So much of the narrative around arts education comes from what art can do for the brain and how engagement with music and visual arts enhances standardized test scores. The truth is, this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Most of the things around us are the result of mass-produced industrial manufacture. We have no idea whose hands have touched those objects, no notion of the locations around the globe where they were made, and no investment in the humans whose work has shaped every part of our day-to-day experience.
My work as an artisan ceramicist connects me deeply with not only the materials that make up my work but also with the time-honored techniques that give rise to functional and beautiful objects. It also puts me in constant contact with the possibility of failure. Every day, I face the chance that a bowl I’ve made at the wheel or a mug I’ve painted will break in the kiln, fall into pieces on the floor, or in many other ways, fail to exist the way I’d like. When a part does come out as I intended, it’s because of the thousands of hours I’ve spent laboring, experimenting, and perfecting my craft. But my art will never be perfect.
Every handmade ceramic object culminates the artist’s experience in the moment of creation. It represents the artist’s training and craft and the people who came before, whose wisdom has been passed down from generation to generation. It also signifies a wish for the future: that someone’s life is enriched by a beautiful and functional object that can when cared for, withstand the test of time.
This is the foundation of my business, Once and Future Things, where I’m selling not just ceramics but also an experience I want to share with my clients: Their ownership of my pieces connects them with what came before, what’s present, and what’s possible in the future that they see not just the object in front of them but the millions of mistakes that, over millennia, made it possible for that object to exist.
And, more than anything, they feel more inspired by the failures they face in their lives, failures that can be refined and redeemed.
An Interview with Kirsten
Q: Do you work in any other mediums?
A: Yes! Acrylic and watercolor painting, fiber art, costume design, sculptural work... I am a certifiable jack-of-all-art! I'm down to play in any art medium and often love to find ways to apply what I develop in one medium to another. This is how I created the stained-glass effects on my mugs - from working and playing with actual stained-glass techniques. I also find paintings with underglazes very reminiscent of paintings with watercolors. However, they dry about ten times faster than watercolors when painting on bisque, so you have to work quickly. But, working with translucent paints, from your lightest colors to your darkest, provides lots of crossover between watercolor painting techniques and ceramic painting.
Q: How would you describe your work to potential buyers?
A: My top sellers, by far, are what I call the "Zendoodle Mugs." What started as random doodles on mugs using French Dimension "puff paint," then flooding between the lines with underglazes, resulted in a bright, bold, colorful, stained-glass effect that is stimulating to the touch. Making your morning cup of joe that much more joyful!
Q: What inspires your work?
A: Teaching inspires my work. Without fail, when I lack direction in my creative life, getting into a classroom setting and breaking down the steps of creation for other people always slows me down enough to allow my mind to wander and creative ideas to pop up!