Working with clay, for me, is an inevitability. After a 10+ year hiatus, I returned to a medium that allows for constant evolution and reminds me that so many things are out of my control. From creating the form to modifying it during the firing process, my pieces change during every step of the journey. I’ve finally grown to appreciate the transformation, and sometimes, the overwhelming flaws. I prefer finishes that make the viewer question the material that was used. Is it leather? Fabric? Metal? No, clay!? I love seeing the surprised expressions on people’s faces when they learn the truth. I work predominantly with stoneware and change the clay body and forms based on the anticipated firing process. Firing in an electric kiln is vastly different than firing in a wood kiln. I’m inspired by absolutely anything. You may find me staring at the curved supports on the underside of a bridge, examining the delicate structure of a flower, or appreciating the simplistic beauty of an everyday utilitarian object. I try to see the world through the eyes of my children from time to time since it gives me a completely different perspective on life. Sometimes I’ll sketch an idea I have for a new form, but more often than not, my large forms grow and morph as they are being created. I spent my first half of life in the mid-Atlantic states and the second half in Memphis, Tennessee. My varied work reflects the shared tension of Northerner vs. Southerner, artist vs. maker, sculptor vs. potter, wheel-thrown vs. hand built. I swing from extremes vacillating between the functional and ornamental, while continuously striving for peace between the two. My work is for everyone. From the morning tea drinker to the art collector, from the parent admiring a tiny weed “bouquet” from their proud child to those who appreciate the dichotomy that is Memphis, I strive to make quality pieces that bring joy and mindfulness to the viewer.
- Leah Schaffer Sweet
- Cynthia Collins