(one of kind serving bowls and platters inspired by Shaker visions)
When I was planning my 6 week residency at Watershed, I had a number of possible directions to pursue with my work. I have a number of lines that I generally concentrate on in the studio. The seed stamp dinnerware is the bread and butter of my wholesale business and I enjoy making it. However, I wanted to take a break from making dinnerware while in Maine. When I packed some pieces for a sale opportunity at Watershed I left behind my Shaker-inspired bowls. I had been working on these bowls and had spent a lot time over the last few years visiting Hancock Shaker Village and Mount Lebanon, and reading about this intriguing and industrious religious community. Also, having spent many years at local antique auctions, I’ve come across pieces made by the Shakers; often incredibly simple forms — a wooden box, a shirt hanger, a ladder back chair. I am very drawn to these items. I am very drawn to these people, who designed things for daily use and desired to share their devotion and rituals through their work. But what is it about the Shakers that really speaks to me? I started asking myself a few questions, and the questions were about the Shakers and their work, but they were also about my process: What is at work in their/my handmade objects? What sets them/me apart as people of faith and as makers?
Recently I came across the Gift Drawings and songs. By the mid-19th century, Mother Ann Lee, the founder and spiritual leader of the Shakers had passed on to the next life and numbers in the community were dwindling. Around this time a small number of women and a few men, or “instruments”, began to make drawings based on visions and visitations by Mother Ann and other departed members of the community. These works were meant to inspire and reassure believers. The drawings were given only to members within the community and not meant for “the world”. This was likely intentional because some are almost psychedelic in nature and would surely have been seen as lunacy by some. Largely forgotten until recently, they are an example of the devotion of the Shakers to God and their spiritual leader.
This Fall I studied these drawings. While in Maine I was lucky to attended the exhibit The Shakers: From Mount Lebanon to the World. I also spent the day at Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village, where the last 3 living Shakers reside. I was thoroughly inspired by these visits and I became more captivated by the drawings. I’m really excited to share what’s come out of this exploration. This December my holiday sale will take place at a pop-up gallery and shop on Spring Street in Williamstown with hours during the Holiday Walk, December 6, 2014. Look for more details in the coming weeks.
Below are three examples of the Gift Drawings. In the coming weeks, I’ll share more about the process as I get closer to the show and sale.
please write with any questions about my work. As always, you’re invited to visit the studio anytime by appointment. 802-823-7977
Here are a few shots from my Fall residency at Watershed in Newcastle Maine. I’m still sorting images and will share as I organize.
The day to day scenery was incredible. Being away from my studio and working with other artists was inspiring in so many ways. My visits to the Farnsworth Museum to see the Shaker exhibit and my day at Sabbathday Lake Shaker community had a profound effect my recent work, and I can’t wait to share their influence.
Fellow 2014 Watershed residents from left: Alex O’Neil, Meredith Morten, Charal Hatfield, Dana Bergman, yours truly, Molly Allen, Kristina Hamm, Sarah Southwick
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village
queens anne’s lace through a greenware bowl
late night in the Watershed studio
throwing demo at the Wiscassett Art Walk
one of the barns at Dandelion Farm, neighbor to Watershed
We had a wonderful visit with Zach Lihatsh, who was the first student I met in 1995 when I started teaching clay at Buxton School. We had a great catch up and I’m looking forward to seeing more of him around these parts over the next couple years. (seen here introducing my gear plate to his elbow)
the fabulous Lizz painting signs
new bowl design
finally… some living room drapes
sublime Prince Edward Island
I’ve been throwing and altering some steins for an upcoming benefit and for the sale here at the house on July 12 and 13. One of the great joys of making is to think about how folks enjoy their favorite beverage.
I look at things a lot. Once in a while I come across a scene or object that stops me still. On a drive from Wilmington Vermont on Saturday this building really spoke to me.
Sometimes it’s an antique Japanese bowl someone posts online. Sometimes it’s the way hundred year old hand-mixed concrete looks – pebbles, cracks and moss telling a story.
I’m reminded of an excerpt from Daniel Lanois’ film Here is What Is. Click on the link below to hear an excerpt from this documentary to hear Brian Eno speak a bit about the power an object can have.
What object has recently stopped you still?