I was 24 years old before I made anything I considered to be art. I had never taken an art class, I learned ceramics through watching others in the studio where I assisted and later taught children's classes. As a potter running a studio in downtown Manhattan, I focused on teaching and honing my technical skills to produce functional vessels.
I always believed in the poetry of clay vessels: how earth could be shaped through the force of human hands, tempered by fire, and become an object that serves intimate functions.
But is a mug a piece of art?
There is a knowledge that potters have of how the human body fits itself into utilitarian items: how a hand holds a handle; the way an arm must turn to pour from a spout; how you press your bottom lip below the rim of a cup as you take a drink. The vessel is shaped accordingly. I watched and learned these things. Slowly, I began to realize it was the relationship between the human body and the ceramic vessel throughout both their lives that I found so engaging.
I decided I wanted to make ceramic vessels that were more about this sustained relationship with the body. I explored other ways to design a vessel to function in response to humans. The objects pictured above represent two series I committed myself to making in 2009, urns and life portraits.
It was the success of the idea in the objects and the production of a series of work surrounding a single conceptual framework that convinced me this could be something. I might get to make a living learning. I can work as someone who explores the intersections between what we use and what we learn to make through careful implementation of the resources available to us.
Copyright Liz Lohr 2018