As a functional potter, I make vessels and larger installations focused on the everydayness of objects in the home. My work touches on daily routines, mundane tasks, and how objects can hold memories and emotions. I use terracotta clay to reference the historical commonplace status of red clay, while thinking of the types of vessels that filled my childhood: grocery store dinnerware, soft pastels of Tupperware, and hand-me-downs of depression glass. The everydayness of objects is expressed through material, as well as form. In addition to hand-built and pinched clay forms, I use paper, fabric, and wire to reflect how we relate to objects as common, easily replaced, and readily forgettable.
I didn’t think about how living with the other Artists-in-Residence during my time here would affect my work. However, living in a communal situation with four other people and sharing the same spaces everyday did affect my work. Firstly, as a potter moving into the resident house, it offered cabinets full of handmade pots to discover.
There are droves of pots made by past potter residents and unknown potters, ranging from mugs to plates to an extensive collection of popcorn bowls.
In the beginning, it was a joy to discover a new favorite coffee mug amongst the packed shelves. Over time, pots wandered off into bedrooms for the midnight cups of water that accumulate on the nightstand, or they were the perfect fit in a cup holder and became someone’s car ride coffee cup of choice, or they made their way up to the studios for a wine glass at our summer bonfires. As pick of morning coffee mugs became slimmer, I brought out a few mugs from my own collection to use. After all, for me pots have always been memories of the friends that made them or handpicked due to the softest matte glaze finish you’ve ever held with the sleepiest of pinch pot maker fingers, nonetheless, they were acquired for special reasons.
The reintroduction of my own objects into this communal space shifted the way I thought about our unique living situation. The more roommates you have, the more use an object gets, the more wear they show, the shorter their lifespan is, the easier it is for it to disappear and be replaced (one day I will divulge the secret of the electric kettle’s untimely demise, but alas that is not this blog post). But also the more memories these objects hold.
If an anthropologist were to walk in our house, at any given moment, they would be able to give you a reader’s digest version detailing the lives we lead by the random assortment of our objects left around the living and dining spaces, because our things represent us more than we realize.
Every day the five of us share a kitchen. Days when were all on the same schedule, such as teaching community classes or helping with a gallery installation, the more we have to negotiate sharing space and sharing the same objects as a group, often without even realizing that negotiating is what we’re doing. Two of my pieces in our exhibition “Not a Metaphor”, reflect this idea. The crowded assemblage of objects in “Kitchen Counter” is a snapshot of objects contained in our resident kitchen, the stove, the knife holder, and the pile of cutting boards. There are paired with objects of my own daily routine that have fallen by the wayside while living with roommates: my morning cup of coffee that’s always precariously close to the edge of the counter, and the task of de-leafing strawberries in the morning because instead I’ve been reaching for a banana to take with me to the studio.
“Kitchen Cabinet” was made in reflection of sharing the communal pots in our cabinets everyday, forcing me to think of the vessels that influence my work as a potter, the grocery store dinnerware, Tupperware bowls, and hand-me-down depression glass. Vessels that from the outside seem ordinary and mundane, that one might not think they come into play from a potter’s perspective. I aim to imbue the objects and vessels I make with meaning, much in the same way my late grandmother’s depression glassware holds a special place in my kitchen cabinet. Our everyday objects, reflect details about ourselves, no matter their means of production. I choose to recreate objects in my work to represent what our domestic spaces contain: a compilation of time, material things, and memories.
Kari Woolsey is from Boca Raton, Florida. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University in 2011, with a BFA in ceramics. In 2015, she completed a year long Post Baccalaureate program in ceramics at the University of Florida. She attended graduate school at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL from 2015 to 2018. Supplemental to her formal education, craft school and workshop experiences have aided her development as a functional potter, including her working relationship with the Clay Arts Vegas studio located in Nevada, where she was the 2017 Summer Artist in Residence. Currently, Kari is an Artist In Residence at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts.