Mary Katherine Donovan, BFA Senior Exhibition in Ceramics


The Language of the Birds

Mary Katherine Donovan's artist's statement: My work explores the branch of mysticism known as alchemy, which places a strong emphasis on the self and duality. The better-known idea of alchemy is physical alchemy, in which a base material undergoes purification and transforms into a more valuable material, often recognized in popular culture as the act of changing lead into gold. The lesser-known metaphysical idea of alchemy as "the science of the soul," through which one undergoes the purification of the soul that occurs after the individual goes through multiple initiatory experiences. The metaphysical act of alchemical transmutation attempts to combine the duality of all aspects of life and join them into harmony within one's self. The Language of the Birds is a direct reference to the latter form of alchemy, as various cultures hold within their mythology that one who is initiated into a higher realm of harmony possesses the ability to understand and converse with birds who hold the 'true' language of the soul.

Clay serves as both medium and metaphor for this exploration of the duality of alchemy; transforming from mere earth into immortal work through the firing process, while also providing the canvas for sculptural and functional forms that represent symbols of the alchemical process. Alchemists use the vessel as metaphor for the human body, in which the transmutation of the soul occurs. I have continued in this tradition, using my own interpretation of the classic ceramic vessel to reflect personal experiences, both positive and negative, that have transformed my own life permanently.

The BFA Senior Exhibition opens Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, with a reception from 6-8:00 p.m. in Highsmith Art and Intercultural Gallery, and continues through Tuesday,  Nov. 5; gallery hours are 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m., Monday though Saturday, and 12-6 on Sunday.

Free and open to the public.  Information: 828-251-6559 or