You can learn much about the quality of an environment by the number and type of birds that pass through it or call it home. Similarly, the character of a culture is revealed through the objects it produces. When pots and birds intersect, you get unique insights into how the maker sees the natural world.
During the last decade there have been more and more concerted efforts to decolonize our notions of what working with clay means, and while it is a difficult point in our history to feel optimism, people who make things out of clay are always in community...For those seeking positive changes in our society, we must remember that there are steps backward and forward, the path is erratic and often uncertain, but the arc has been toward justice – we just don’t have enough of it yet.
Although 2020 was a challenging year that exhausted us all, 2021 needs to be the year that we move forward to create impactful change. The change that we need – the anti-racist ideals that we should all strive to embody – require deliberate action, attentiveness, courage, discomfort, conflict, and ultimately a release and restructuring of power.
In comparing three articles, from the Studio Potter subscription, from differing time frames, I’ve come to understand a connection to art and ceramics that is more than skill building. I know the reason why my brain was has been so happy to have my hands in clay.
“I’ve always had an insatiable appetite to learn and to connect with new activities, and I have benefited very much from it,” Paul J. Smith once said, looking back on his extraordinary life in the arts, and the passion that drove it.
The power of art lies in its capacity for alchemy, the ability to reach beyond given circumstances and change perception. For both Santiago and Hefetz, the power that propels their work transcends technique. Unflinchingly direct about sadness, they reach for hope, speaking to the inner core of our being. Santiago’s figures reach for re-humanization and dignity. Hefetz’s work asks us to recontextualize experience. Implicit at the heart of their work, however, is the idea of freedom.
Brightly colored columns stand throughout the industrial site of Mission Clay Building Products on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona. Their presence, amidst outdoor horizontal stacks of terra cotta pipe, signals that artists are at work on eight-footextruded clay pillars.
Watkins's accomplished career, spanning four decades, included achievements in the academic, studio, curatorial, and scholarly realms. It’s a wonder that someone with this breadth of experience and success has received only modest attention in the ceramics and crafts fields.
Equally celebrated in New Hampshire and California, Vivika and Otto Heino's ceramics are part of a continuum that stretches back into history, and continue to inspire those who follow along the path of clay.