Written by Courtney Couch
Photographed by Julia Madden Sears
Emily welcomed me into the ceramics studio, brushing her hands off on her stained jeans before opening small cabinet doors to showcase her work. Mugs with intricate patterns and small vases of quiet, pastel colors lined the shelves. Emily handed me a coffee mug so I could get a closer look.
“Objects," she stated, "toothbrushes, door handles, and microwaves--have power. To think my mug can have a connection to another person every day of their life is amazing.” Emily is fascinated by these seemingly mundane items and has been since first discovering her love for pottery in high school.
She was drawn to working with clay because “the act of throwing on the wheel requires muscle control and body contact.” For Emily, clay has few limitations. “I push, the clay pushes. I pull, the clay follows. I can 3-D sketch in clay much faster than I can on paper.”
Marcel Duchamp is both a conceptual painter and sculptor, and although Emily admits her work is more functional, she still finds inspiration from his art because his sculptures are made of everyday objects. Duchamp's conceptual sculptures reveal an enviable thought process to Emily that has taught her a powerful lesson about the creation of art and the artist's responsibility. "I believe I hold a great responsibility by bringing more objects into the world. Our earth has so many of them, I have to make sure they are worth the space they take up.”
As she slides her pottery back onto its shelf, I imagine steaming coffee rising from hand-thrown cups or bouquets of dandelions peeking out from the edges of clay mugs, their intricate drawings, colors, and patterns on bright kitchen tables or above bathroom sinks--earning their keep, always.