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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Artist's Statement

There was a little wood cozied up to the ramshackle building we euphemistically called our five-stall garage. It was a native wood, dweller of old-world trees, it's residency established long before that of our old Victorian house which perched on the edge of its ancient maples, oaks, walnut and beech. The hardwood trunks were knarled, knobbed with bulges and hollows, hugely round and supported massively upraised arms, branching towards the sky above our three-story home. A narrow path wound its way through the wood to our neighbor's house a half mile away.
In the serenity of this small forest, there were enclaves of dappled sunlight, small skylights, filtering through the cloaking green leaves above; there were small lavender gems of woodland violets and there were clumps of white lily of the valley hidden in silken repose.
This then was the dreamland of my youth where I often sat in the nirvana which is nature and built the fairytales of my future.

Art is the woodland forest.

Reveries are the bounty of the quiescent soul, yet best sometimes to be left behind, not to be abandoned entirely, but placed gently aside in lieu of companionship, song and laughter. In such few words do I describe my Mother. Her songs were sweet music to the universe, her laughter the angelus bells ringing in the morning sunrise and the magic of her Irish stories touched each piece of antique furniture, each piece of porcelain plateware, each everyday fabric and matter with such personality that all of our material items pulsated with life, emotion and a spirit all their own.

Art is the song to the Universe, the laughter of the angelus bells, the Irish story giving it an impish personality.

My pottery is designed to bring you the discovery of woodland violets, cause you to see the little elves hidden under their lily of the valley bonnets, share the dappled but shaded sunlight of a summer afternoon, fill you with laughter and the sweet harmonic song of the universe, touch your emotions and trigger your passion for the beauty of life.

But more than creating, art is sharing the skills and techniques involved in producing pottery. As Hemmingway would tell us, man is not an island unto himself. And for all the talents, skills and just plain diligent work it has taken to find the balance between the potter's wheel and the clay to form a harmonious vessel, then blend the metallic oxides in a proportion which will obtain a kaleidoscope of colorful glazes, and learn to eye the kilnfire's licking flames which will vitrify both clay and glaze into a vessel as from the womb to maturity, so must this knowledge be shared. Taught as it were, to students who will give future generations the inheritance of elegance, strength, utility, traditional art laced with innovation, the familiarity of cups, plates, serving bowls combined with the creative interface of artistic intuition, and themes of color, texture and form drawn from visual observation of our world which flow into creative compositions of new art milieus. These are the future potters who will breathe such distinctive character into their work that it transcends the medium, responding, interacting and enabling a spiritual bond between the holder of the pottery piece and art itself.

This, then, is my artist's statement.
To create.
To share the passion of art.
To teach the necessary skills to those who will craft the canvas of life with spirit by means of pottery. A matrix morphing ever more ethereal and aspiring to Olympian heights in the evolution of creativity.

© 2009 Chaeli Sullivan


I am a hybrid formed from living in many parts of our country.
In youth, winters were spent as a southern belle in Florida; summers were enjoyed as a Yankee in Massachusetts. My husband was an Iowa farmboy, thus the midwest became my home for many years. After he died, i followed Horace Greeley's advice: go west, young man/woman, go west. Our four children and i moved out to the Pacific Northwest and homesteaded ten acres in the northern panhandle of Idaho. Then, with the advent of the "empty nest" syndrome, my winters were spent in Arizona, summers in Idaho.
Each area left its imprint on my soul.
Florida sands, beaches, the ocean's salty moods, its waves gently lapping the shore one moment and the next roiling in tempest as they heralded in a hurricaine.
Massachusetts summers were spent in Williamstown, a unique village reminiscent of a European cultural center, it was choc full of bookstores, each with an art section to die for. The Clark Art Museum is located there and by age thirteen i had memorized every artist's style. Williams College is also found in Williamstown. Similarly, by age sixteen, i'd read all the world classics including Kafka, Dostoevski, Voltaire, Sophocles, Aristotle, Ibsen, Tolstoy .........
In Iowa, i could hear the corn grow. Literally. Soft breezes swept through the cornfields. Farmer's love of the rich, loamy soil, cows lowing their mournful throaty calls as they grazed the grasslands and the absolute silence just before a tornado struck, all had tenure as they impacted my personality.
Arizona's vast desert sporting roadrunners, cactus, and Desert Quail marching in families across the sunwarmed hot sand -- all added a unique quality to my character. I experienced my first earthquake in Arizona.
Idaho. Home to the pristine Teton mountains, the sparkling Coeur d'Alene lakes, the primal forests and winter blizzards. Each has a niche in my heart.

In college, i majored in Mass Communications, and my early career was spent in journalism first as a cub reporter, then, as an editor to four different newspapers.
Yet later in life, a profound change occurred when i studied silversmithing under the world famous silversmith, Robert Koepler. While still pursuing silversmithing, i learned to lampwork glass. These art skills led me to pottery. While writing well is an art, to create three-dimensional art is the joy of life!

Working with shapes, exploring textures, using the elements of design (such as line, form, volume, value), using themes of color, constructing glazes, creating a piece that, while the medium is static, has great movement and depth, throwing and sculpting, -- all keep me enthralled with the myriad facets of pottery. It is an area of artistic endeavor like no other. Always challenging. Always satisfying.

And in the final analysis, there has never been such a feeling of anticipation in any other area of art as magical as that moment when opening the kiln after the final glaze firing to see the fruition of a piece born from the ashes into maturity.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Is This Pot "Thrown"?

Couldn't resist adding a comment to a recent discusson about "real" throwing techniques vs lathe methods.
Often, when those who do pottery are really critical of another's methods, i check out the source. Not to form an opinion on the validity of another's method, but just to see what all the fuss is about.
And too, when there are those who are so critical of someone else's creative techniques, i figure the "perpetrator" is an extremely inventive person, often engaged in lateral thinking, who is developing new and unique methods full of originality. If that's the case, i want to learn what they have to offer.
Check out the Ceramic Arts Daily article featuring Ayumi Horie's dry throwing method, and see for yourself what all the hoopla's about:

Then, let me know what you think . . . .