issue 2 : Earth
issue 2 : Earth

Cloth and Clay

Where ceramic sculpture connects to cloth.

Photo by Janelle Pietrzak
Photo by Lizz Robb
At Tatter, we are often moved by the ways in which textiles inform or are informed by, other craft mediums. Clay is a material caused by the erosion of rocks over vast amounts of time, made pliable by water, minerals and microscopic platelets. 

The following group of ceramic artists connect their practices to textile, or in some cases, use textile to access elements of earth.

I work with decorative porcelain, interested in how historical hierarchies have informed how I value art and craft.

I consider how decoration, flowers, domestic space and function have been associated with female making in Western art history, and how decisions about what is collected into museums, or stored away can be gendered.

Part of this ongoing research has been to include embroidery in my ceramic work -- another decorative craft technique found in the domestic space which is also associated with women and viewed as hobby or past time, rather than art. The needlework eliminates the function of these porcelain vessels. I’m interested to see how I revalue these techniques when their original contexts are removed and combined.

My creative work explores ecological time, attention and phenomena. I wonder about the choreography of materials. Fiber, water, ceramic, thread, mirror and lens are echoes of living forms on earth. Each holds a unique capacity and potential through space, touch and time. What happens when a material changes shape? When the body responds? How might materials be composed to speak? Elemental ingredients come together to create a new moment, perhaps showing us disorientation, possibility and permutation.

This body of work  weaves together my transformative experiences in the Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahuan Deserts, exploring their vast expanses. This collection references the central desert themes of dryness, distinctive palette, and the notion of fathomlessness. These sentiments are expressed through techniques of reflection, obscurity and suspension of movement. I often collect earth pigments when I travel, gaining access to the true colors and emotional experience of the land I’m inhabiting. I often start by sketching with these materials, creating inks and gluing textures onto surfaces like cotton paper and fine weavings before moving onto larger scale works.

I use bright colors and repeating patterns as a way of injecting my work with evidence of the exuberant aliveness I feel when making art. My practice seeks to alleviate daily doldrums and spiritless ways of living, transforming objects and spaces into paratelic experiences. I gift these works to the viewer as an optimistic nudge towards joy, connection and a playful awareness of how the larger world could be.

Working with clay is reactionary. It can be play—compared with the calculated planning and production work that I do with fibers.  It is freeing and always feels creative. My hands can't work as fast as my brain when handling clay.  After a year working clay, I started making tiles to attach to my woven wall hangings. I play with contrast in my work, mixing shiny yarns with matte. Ceramic glaze against fiber is the stark contrast I look for.

At my atelier in Portugal I investigate the cultural traffic between Portugal and its countries of origin, Angola and Cape Verde in particular. I explore these themes through materials, artisanal techniques, imaginary fragments and other rituals. The results coexist in different supports, merging ceramics, basketry, audio collections, and collage.