Native Clay: May 3rd thru June 28th, 2019
“If we could understand the common clay of the earth. . . we could understand everything.”
Juxtaposing the delicate, airy form of Stephanie Martin’s ceramic work are the forceful, erected sculptures by Shadow May. These two
artists seemed perfectly balanced on opposite ends of some invisible scale, each pushing clay to new limits and challenging what their medium should be capable of. Where Martin’s work is quiet and harmonious,May’s work creates a visual and emotional weight in the viewer.
Enter Amanda Brazier: if Martin and May’s work take ceramics to new heights, Brazier’s paintings ground us.Inspired by patterns in both the organic and man-made world, her work resonates and speaks to man’s universal desire to create. When we place our hands in the soil — whether to plant our spring garden, to build a castle with our child, or to lay the groundwork for something more, we feed that desire. Nature and creation are profoundly connected.
For each of these artists, their work is a direct result of their intimate understanding of the natural materials they use. They have pushed their medium in a new direction, patiently listening and learning as the clay reveals its secrets.
My work explores the way we build and inhabit shelter. The structures and materials of textiles and primitive dwellings influence my visual language. Like the building process, the paintings develop through stacking, weaving, and assembling simple forms. The textures and patterns suggest familiar spaces that not only cover our bodies but also connect our souls. I make paint from earth pigments gathered near my home, constructing a painted sanctuary with a sense of its origin.
Amanda Brazier is a painter living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She received her BA in Studio Art and Spanish from Freed-Hardeman University in 2007. For the last eight years she has been gathering and using local earth pigments in her paintings in order to connect more deeply with the history and material of painting and place. She is a facilitator for the public art organization Mark Making and is represented by River Gallery in Chattanooga.
Stephanie’s initial experience in clay held strictly therapeutic value. She found an instant connection to the ceramic medium as it allowed an expression from within and a manifestation of internal growth into tangible form. Drawing inspiration from the natural world, she explores the lines and the harmonious exchange between hard and soft surfaces found within landscapes and ecosystems. Stephanie lives in Chattanooga Tennessee and works alongside Katherine Hanks in the collaborative work of Annie Hanks Ceramics. Through their collective work, they seek to celebrate the balance between the innate strength and poise of the universal woman.
I work from the perspective that life is fleeting. That belief lends to the urgent and spontaneous nature of both my functional and non-functional work. "Did I do enough in my life? Did I live in fear too often? Did I challenge myself to taste greatness?"
The fundamentals I gained from apprenticeships and production work early in my career have equipped me with a fearless method of creating—evolving rapidly. I spent many years working as a functional potter, but eventually, I found myself feeling confined by the restrictions of function. I wanted to create work that would challenge notions of what clay should be and do and look. Because of that desire, I feel that my functional and nonfunctional forms are intuitive and uninhibited and emphasize the value of taking risks.
Many of my pieces are built from monolithic slabs of clay and thrown forms to create large, dynamic pieces. Instead of hiding the seams, I emphasize them by using unorthodox tools to seal the joints and create texture. The spontaneity of the building process is obvious when someone looks at the final product. The torn forms, unconcealed joints, and bent slabs reinforce an urgency I hope is evident in my work.
Shadow May is a self-taught, award-winning ceramic artist. He was born and raised in Homer, Alaska, but now calls Chattanooga, Tennessee, home. The fundamentals he gained from apprenticeships and production work early in his career equipped him with a fearless method of creating work—evolving rapidly. May’s ceramic forms marry a studio artist’s discipline with an experimental performer’s mentality. His commitment to and knowledge of the medium only encourage him to take greater risks. He welcomes mistakes and struggles and he seems to believe it brings a greater sense of resolve and presence to each form. May has received a Tanne Foundation Award, Tennessee Arts Commission Artist Fellowship, and Make Work, ArtsMove and CERF grants. May teaches workshops nationally and has been published in Ceramics Monthly and Clay Times. He has exhibited his work across the country in over a hundred juried fine arts shows, museums, and galleries.