Sexism, along with other forms of oppression, is still prevalent in our society, and in the world of clay artists. Think about all the instructors you had in ceramics programs in college. How many of them were women? And, how many female ceramists did you study? It is safe to say that women are becoming more included, but we still have a long way to go. Clay programs are fantastic when it comes to teaching the highly technical, scientific aspects of working with clay, but they need to keep moving towards diversity and inclusiveness.

Young females working primarily in clay and with feminist themes, are rare. Does this have something to do with younger female clay artists and their involvement with Fourth Wave Feminism? This particular wave focuses on technology, a strong online presence, sexuality, body- and sex-positivity, and the self as subject. The intersectional aspect of the movement is queer-based, trans-inclusive, extends its invitation to men, and deals with racism, classism, homophobia, and other prejudices.  Intersectionality is underscored by artists’ choices to incorporate mixed media. The clay world is notorious for being a mono-medium field, so it’s no wonder that these niche artists often cross over to other art groups. Though many feminists have started out working with different materials, some have been drawn to clay and are producing bodies of work with the malleable material.

Jessica Stoller. Untitled (Slip), 2016. Porcelain, glaze, china paint, lustre, 12 x 10.5 x 7 in. Photo courtesy of the artist and P.P.O.W Gallery, NYC.Jessica Stoller has used mixed media in her past artwork but has moved on to working primarily in clay, specifically, with porcelain and china paints. The objects she creates are sexual scenes that incorporate decorative body parts, food, and plants, assembled to look as if they are morphing and melting together and finished with a pastel color palette. Stoller’s Untitled (Slip), a bust of a young woman blinded by melting desserts and other foods sliding down from atop her head, comments on overconsumption by the richest consumers in our society. The rococo style of her works is also an oblique reference to how women have long been perceived as decorative, weak, and unaware of the power they hold. As seen in such works as Untitled (Stack), body shapes range from thin and perky to voluptuous and droopy—evoking both fear and empowerment. Her sculptures are simultaneously grotesque and pleasurable.

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