Photos by Hillary Ehlen and Tara Fermoyle
Ceramic artist Tara Fermoyle has been making an impression in the FM area with Fermie Studios. Because of her background in interior design, Fermoyle’s art is heavily influenced by patterns and textiles. We met with Fermoyle recently to discuss her work as well as her involvement in the local art community.
The Formula for Fermie Studios
Fermoyle grew up in North Dakota, Minnesota, and South Dakota and fondly remembers living in Pelican Rapids. She eventually moved to Fargo to study interior design at NDSU.
During her last semester of school, Fermoyle signed up for a ceramic class. “I signed up for another ceramic class, and I was done for,” Fermoyle laughed. She then stayed in school to complete a degree in fine arts.
After graduating working full time for a few years, Fermoyle founded Fermie Studios in October 2016. “When I was playing around with different names, it just stuck,” Fermoyle said of ‘Fermie,’ which was occasionally thrown around on the playground, but didn’t become a true nickname until she started her first job.
A Series of Influences
Tara Fermoyle’s creative process often leads to the creation of a new series. “If I have an idea, I’ll always put it into a series,” Fermoyle said. “Some of the series are influenced by design and textiles, so all of the pattern and things that I see in that field transfer over to my ceramic work,” she continued.
The Dakota Series
Tara has studio space at APT, A Creative Incubator and is involved in The Arts Partnership. For example, she has created a CSA (Community Sponsored Art) piece that consisted of coasters imprinted with a seal from the Dakota Business College. “I’m paying tribute to Downtown Fargo with something that I can relate to by incorporating those design and architectural elements,” Fermoyle said. This was the inspiration behind her Dakota Series. She has also used ceiling tiles from buildings downtown to create textures on clay.
The Zip Series
When she was a student, Fermoyle was working on a vase that resembled a woman’s curves. “It actually was a studio mate of mine who told me that it looked like a dress,” she explained. This inspired Fermoyle to add a zipper onto the vase form. At first, she would simply create an imprint with the zipper. Today, she uses a cast and mold to create a 3D clay zipper that she can attach to her vessels using slip, a mixture of clay and water.
Fermoyle was hesitant to say that zippers are her signature, but she did explain that she enjoys using them in her work. She experimenting with different lusters that can give the clay an aged pewter finish or metallic shine, making the zippers look ultra-realistic. The glaze underneath the luster dictates how it will appear, and all of her pieces with luster have been fired three times. “I always tell people that at that point, the pieces are no longer dishwasher or microwave safe,” Fermoyle explained. However, she always recommends hand-washing your ceramics.
Fermoyle is also a member of Cone Pack, a group of local ceramicists who come together to host events and share their work with the community. In the past, they have hosted a Mug Market at 20 Below Coffee, for example. In the future, Fermoyle plans to continue working with The Arts Partnership and Cone Pack to make original artwork even more accessible for people in the FM area. One way she hopes to accomplish this is by hosting Clay Play classes. “Its always so amazing to me how everyone gets the same slab of clay and can create such different and unique end results,” Fermoyle said.