When I made a plan to be at Watershed for 6 weeks 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, 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”, which 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. 802-823-7977