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The Clay Studio

Resident Artist: Heather Mae Erickson

My work discusses the coupling of mass-produced industrial design and traditional techniques of wheel-thrown porcelain. The nature of my study generally deals with the meal and objects used on the table. I am interested in the implications found not only in the utilization of the ware, but also in the various methods of storing each piece. I have a commitment to the process, although I am interested in accumulating knowledge of additional techniques of building with clay and other materials.

I explore the possibility of changing the way we treat the vital ritual of dining. By designing functional tableware, I seek to direct the eye, hand and mouth to treat food differently. I want to create ware that raises awareness of the situation and sparks contemplation before merely devouring the elements. I am not interested in making ceramic teapots that look and work exactly like the ones the world already knows. I am not sure how far objects can be manipulated using new concepts before the average person needs education and direction to utilize them. I am especially interested in making new objects that comment on the past, the now, and the future. The following questions I will continue to explore further. What about a table setting needs to be purely functional, what is decorative, how much of the two should be brought together? Why do objects come to look and function the way the do? How should an object feel in the hand? How does a single piece interact with the others in the setting or on the table? What does it do to the art when food comes into play? How much can an artist be involved in how an owner displays, uses, and cares for an object? I believe through the design and qualities of the work some of the outcome can be placed upon an object by the creator.

The mix between hi-tech and slow paced quiet living is another aspect I continue to research. I often mix high and low brow ideas by giving a light feel to formal dining through surface treatment of highly refined porcelain dinnerware. I plan to explore my vision further to raise questions and associations of the rituals of dining, ceramics, and design. When creating dinnerware, I want to deal with all the stages of an object's existence, such as storage, display, usage rituals, and etiquette.

Currently I am continuing to explore processes of plaster model carving to make designs to be cast with ceramic slip. I am looking forward to combining traditional techniques of wheel thrown objects with highly refined cast designs to create a new dining experience.

Heather's website