BFA Senior Exhibition: Kalee Calhoun

Earth as Canvas: Immortalizing Family Narratives in Clay

When: May 4 - May 12, 2018
Where: S. Tucker Cooke Gallery
Reception: Friday, May 4, 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Gallery Hours: 9:00 a.m.- 6:00 p.m. Monday - Friday

All events are free and open to the public

Artist Abstract
Losing oneself in a story is a cathartic experience: listening, reading, watching, and telling are all forms of release and connection. However, the viewer conventionally experiences narratives once-removed, as images on a screen, as words or drawings on flat pieces of paper. The viewer and the story do not exist on the same plane. A notable exception to this two-dimensional tendency is the rich history of using clay as a canvas upon which to paint stories and myths. When integrated with a three-dimensional form, a story can exist in the same physical environment as the viewer, and the distances between viewer, storyteller, and story become less divisive. By challenging the tradition of preserving stories in two dimensions, the experience of narrative can become more intimate, more immersive, more interactive. Clay’s seemingly paradoxical qualities of permanence and transmutability can more tactilely and permanently capture the evolution of a family’s memories, stories, and language in interactive, three-dimensional ceramic objects. While wet, clay is malleable and changes over time as it is shaped, just as memories and stories change each time they are recalled or retold; after firing, ceramics become intimate, daily-use objects that can withstand the test of time, so that family stories can live on within the objects generations after the original storyteller has passed. The drawing style developed for this body of work is a contemporary remix of historical styles of drawing on ceramics, influenced by modern animation and illustration aesthetics; this style serves to provide space in the contemporary world for two precious traditions that modern values have labeled outmoded: ceramics and the stories of older generations. In Earth as Canvas: Immortalizing Family Narratives in Clay, family stories are preserved in and on ceramic vessels. Most of the pieces are functional, or suggest functionality, to encourage daily use and intimacy between the piece and the user. Ideally, each time an object that embodies a story is used, the user will recall both the story and their memory or imagined persona of the storyteller, fostering intergenerational connections and an art-as-object, object-as-art appreciation.