Ceramics Questioning Contemporary Expectations of Clay by Elyse Grams

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Elyse Grams is a ceramic artist based in Portland, Maine. Hand building earthenware coil vessels in the style of Victorian era Wedgewood pottery she is questioning contemporary expectations of clay by remixing histories, old and new. Elyse was recently a fellow at the Artist Campaign School, a conference dedicated to involving more artists directly in the political process. She has shown work in group and solo shows in Texas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Maine. Elyse is a current MFA candidate at the Maine College of Art.


Ceramic history stretches out behind me like the line of a coil, plastic and uneven. The clay rolls beneath my fingertips and here and now the coils begin to build. I look to the specific shapes of Wedgewood pottery to ground myself but the coil, one of the most basic building blocks of a pot, always calls me back. I am a vessel building a vessel. I am plastic and uneven.

Wedgewood pottery fascinates me both as  objects that are a Frankenstein mish-mash of culturally appropriated signifers and as historically fetishized domestic heirlooms passed down from mother to daughter. Through the re-creation of these pots using red clay and coils I am questioning long held expectations of ceramic material worth, process, and form. I am challenging the value judgements made on earthenware vessels and their traditional place in the hierarchy of fine art. What is “technically wrong” becomes an open dialogue through time between myself and the ceramic histories I draw from.


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