From Hamptons Restaurateur to Acclaimed Ceramic Artist
Toni Ross found great success as a restaurateur—with Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, New York—but since shifting her focus to art full-time for the past 19 years, she is finding fulfillment as well as recognition as a ceramic artist. She graduated from Wesleyan University with a degree in film, later to be mentored by famed painter Elaine de Kooning. While Ross often works with oil and paper, her heart lies with ceramics. The past drives the themes of her works as she constantly examines what was and what could have been. That intuition results in serene and deeply personal stoneware pieces—into which Ross pours her soul. Working in her studio, designed by Lee Skolnick in Wainscott, New York, Ross also draws inspiration from boxes, containers, and other vessels that have voids, whether seen or unseen. Many of her recent works are hollow or have empty cores—showing her fascination with the relationship between the inside and outside. There is often a lack of color in these works, as she focuses on line and form—a basic concept, but one that is hard to master. Ross has several exhibitions this year, including “Sanctuary Entwined,” a new site-responsive installation at East Hampton’s LongHouse Reserve (through October 15) where three cubes made of hemp twine intersect with three trees: an American beech, a native oak and a weeping European beech.