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The Clay Studio

Jennie Shanker

The Marcellus Clay Experiment

April 5 through April 28, 2013

Bonovitz Space

This show will offer samples of the investigations, information, lessons and stories from a year and a half long exploration of the use of Marcellus Shale as a material.

Everyday, mundane acts and decisions have a cumulative effect: your daily needs are politically charged. There is a connection between the things we use and the natural resources they are derived from. This connection and the repercussions of that relationship have become a focus in my work.

Marcelllus Shale is a rock and nothing but a rock. The controversial exploitation of it as a resource from which natural gas can be extracted has brought it an unprecedented level attention.

By transforming this sedimentary rock into a usable clay and ceramic, I look to unpack the social, economic, and health concerns that have divided communities concerned about drilling for natural gas. The physical presence of this material in a room creates a relationship between the complicated issues surrounding the debate and one’s body. It is made personal, and is felt.  This crucial awareness, I believe, opens a space for productive discussion. 

Part of the complexity of the issue comes from the many angles from which it needs to be considered: environmental, political, social and economic. When this project began, it was difficult to find good, unbiased information about the drilling that was occurring. Over the course of this work I’ve connected with scientists/researchers, engineers, farmers, citizens living in affected areas, activists, and the general public. The travels, stories and studio experiments from this endeavor have been chronicled on www.marcellusclay.blogspot.com. The site includes a page of links to studies, articles and information, offering material from many perspectives meant to inform, diversify, and deepen a reader’s understanding.

~ Jennie Shanker