I am reminded of the “power of she” every year when I steal away for the weekend with my childhood girlfriends. This year, we included a trip to the Peabody Essex Museum to see the exhibit of Empresses of China’s Forbidden City. I was immediately drawn into the lives of these women and as curator Daisy Yiyou Wang said, “the broader reflection on the position of women in society and a sense of commonality and connection across time and cultures”
When I viewed the exhibit, I was already working on my spring collection. The peony was central to my theme. From the exhibit, I learned that Empress Dowager Cixi favored the peony, known as the “king of all flowers” and the flower of China, because the bloom signifies beauty and prosperity.
I found myself reflecting on women and the power of she. My spring collection widened as I chose an image that would live on and in the surface of my wheel thrown vessels and gave a second dimension to my collection.
The Pottery in Bloom collection and the Power of She collection become my spring collection together. Women have their own stories, shared in the company of other women. The power of she collectively creates strong, beautiful, feminine women who won’t be forgotten as these empresses might have been. The symbol of the peony bloom reminds us of their stories and of our own.
This collection will make its debut this weekend at Potters Place Spring Show and Sale, May 3-5. It is a small and intricate collection that begs to be touched as well as pondered intellectually.
I came away from the SAC Cup Exhibit thinking about dividing my ceramic surfaces into separate areas for decorating. Two exhibiting artists: Maureen Mills and Rena Hamilton both used designs to create divided spaces on their three dimensional forms in a way that intrigued me.
Rena Hamilton’s wood fired tumbler
Maureen Mills wood fired tumbler
The design elements, the choice of clay and firing, and the resulting richness of the surface make for interesting and complex work. The work seems similar at first, but when researching the artists, their stories are different. The dividing space becomes design elements chosen for different reasons.
Maureen Mills, the director of the New Hampshire Institute of Art is a teacher, an artist and a published author describes her work in this way: “My work continues to explore the contradictions of delicate surface techniques combined with the strength of (certain) clays. When fired in a wood burning kiln, the surface can become almost obliterated with melting ash, yet the subtle quality of surface depth that is achieved continues to strengthen each form.” Rena Hamilton, lives and works in Flagstaff, New Mexico. She describes her work as being “rooted in the philosophy of a balance in opposites; masculine-feminine, work-play, whimsical-austere.” She says, “most of my work starts on the wheel and is often embellished with freehand scrolled drawings, slip trailing, stamping and underglaze transfer images and then fired in a wood and spray soda kiln.”
Maureen Mills’ tumbler in hand
Rena Hamilton’s artist signature stamp
Rena Hamilton’s delicate pink stained glaze juxtaposed to a masculine wood fired scroll
More posts about the Cup Exhibit can be found here and here.