“This semester, we were tasked with a deliberately open-ended “Everyday Life Project.” Our assignment: to commit to a weekly practice with the goal of shifting our habits of attention. Beyond this minimal directive, the only guideline was to try to forge new connections between our daily lives and lives beyond our own.“
The Pottery Practice is a collection of hand made pot planters using clay from the eroded wetlands of the “Coves”. This piece examines sustainability with the art practice as well as relationships with nature as a circular ritual of leaning, practicing and teaching.
Despite its visual aesthetics, this project is more about the practice and the process. In the Everyday Life Project course led by Professor Kate Stanley, I was asked to take on a project bigger than myself in midst of a pandemic, and for me, that meant exploring a type of art that I was not yet acquainted with. Fortunately, Michelle Wilson, a visual arts graduate student at Western, who had been previously exploring the clay from the Coves was willing to help. Wilson showed me how to filter, mold, and form the clay into pottery. When practicing what Wilson taught, I began to feel overwhelmed with stress, taking on yet another independent art project. This inspired me to branch out to the people that surround me ―sharing with my family and friends the same practices I had learned. By transferring the clay-making workshop to a Zoom setting allowed me to create with other people while in the contemporary pandemic.
Soon enough the premise of The Pottery Practice became more about implementing the sustainability practice in other people’s lives. As the fall semester reached its ending, I had the opportunity to display my work in the Satellite Project Space along with other SASAH students. Combined the short videos I took throughout the course of this project and combined them in a documentation. This video played in the bottom blank corner of my display to guide the audience through the process of the composition. In the processes of setting up the gallery my project crossed paths with Sophie Wu, a fellow SASAH peer, as she placed a plastic leaf, she found on the street on top of her pot. This statement helped emphasize the need for sustainability and connected Sophie’s artwork to mine. While I hoping to fire and glaze the ceramics, I realized this downside was also making a point of sustainability. Fired, glazed ceramics will take 1,000,000 years to decompose, but by retaining in the planters in clay form they can be recycled for any other opportunities to share my pottery-making practice.
This project is a work in progress, as the final installation will be expanded further for a display in the Western Visual Arts building. Working with Michelle, we have found more ways to push this project towards sustainability including recycled wood hanging shelves, held together by macramé cord made from old cotton t-shirts, cut into narrow strips, twisted and tied together. Michelle has also suggested painting the pots with berry harvested dyes and glazing with a beeswax finishing. Additionally, the pottery will give a place to host cattail seedlings indoors over the winter season. Cattails are native to the Coves, and support water filtration for many wetlands. In the spring, when the seedlings start to sprout, they will be transferred back to the Coves in order to fully restore my thanks to nature as my artistry muse.
Through experimental and empirical research, I have created a circular ritual of learning, practicing, and teaching. In turn, I hope that this project evokes audiences to reflect on their own relationship to nature and look for ways to share their gifts with the community.
My Final Video Project
Interested in learning more?
Check out my class website to see the success stories of the everyday life projects with students and within the community.
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