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"The main inspiration for my work is Ancient Native American pottery. As my family is a part of the Wyandot tribe I see myself as continuing native traditions. I collect and process all of my clay and most of my materials. I feel that firing with wood connects me even further to the process that my ancestors employed to create such elegant ware. Each piece is hand-built using small coils. By building in small increments I am able to achieve more precise forms with intricate detail.
My native ancestors created utilitarian cooking pots with richly decorated, castellated rims. I aim to celebrate their lives by echoing these themes in my work. Other techniques that find their way into my routine are corrugated Anasazi style and ancient Mound Builder complicated stamp patterns. Often times these two distinct ancient textural elements will find themselves enhancing the surface of a single pot formed in the shape of a castellated Wyandot cooking vessel. Though the Ancient methods are mingling on the surfaces of the vessels, they each refer to unique ancient ways of beauty. I do not just want to take this beauty that has been buried for so long for my very own. I want to breathe my life into earth as it continues to bloom."
Coiling...Each vessel is coil built. Many of them have the coils exposed creating a "corrugated" appearance. This is derived from many pre-historic pots where clay was put onto baskets to give them form, resulting in the impressions of the baskets remaining in the clay.
Texture...Jamie hand carves these paddles from wood, each one designed with a pre-historic Mound Builder pattern. He uses these paddles to impress the surface of the clay, creating the texture on his vessels while the clay is still wet. The texture created from the paddles is often combined with the corrugated style of coiling the pottery, adding another level of intricacy and visual distinction to his work. Take a closer look at each vessel and note how the paddles have been used to create their own story in the clay, impressing it at different levels and even with overlapping designs.
Firing...The vessels in this show are outdoor wood fired, to create the various fire clouds and colorations which give them such a rich appearance.
"I grew up in an artistically inclined family. My dad is a painter and my mom is a jazz musician. Both my Grandmother and Grandfather are artists and their house is brimming with great art and furniture. At frequent family gatherings my cousins and I often had conversations on different pieces that struck our interest. There I was exposed to artwork of such quality and sophistication of form that I had an eye for such things at an early age. My grandparents always encouraged their children and grandchildren in the arts.
Growing up we sometimes visited my Uncle Richard Zane Smith at his home and studio near Santa Fe. When we were there I would spend the days watching him make his magnificent painted pottery. When I was a kid I thought it was almost magical how he was able to make such perfect objects composed completely of human imperfections. I would look close and see every finger print incised in the memory of the clay surface. I would then step back and realize that each of these varied inadvertent marks became woven into a tight flowing form on which the painted design fit seamlessly. The material objects that he created spoke subtly of a spiritual fire that burns in his soul. I have always appreciated Uncle Rich as a spiritual teacher.
I was eventually inspired to learn how to make pottery myself. While supporting myself doing concrete and stone work I put myself through college. In December 2007 I received my BFA in ceramics at Western New Mexico University. During my time at Western I had the privilege of studying with Claude W Smith III. He always had a high standard for his own work. I was inspired to learn to hone in my skills and focus on quality of form. I enjoyed this study and loved living in Silver City, NM.
Throughout my time at WNMU I was exposed to much ceramic art. Though many things interested me nothing satisfied me as much my uncle’s meditative work that I experienced intimately as a child. I began to express this to Uncle Richard and it was decided that I would come to his new home in Wyandotte, Oklahoma for a year-long apprenticeship. After finishing my degree, my family and I moved down the road from Uncle and I started to work across the table from him in his studio at his home. He began to teach me the ancient southwestern technique of building corrugated vessels with tiny coils that he has perfected over the years. Together we have searched out other techniques to work on as well. Some of the techniques that really excited me originate in the ancient Southeastern area of the US. The mound builders of ancient times used complex stamped patterns to decorate their functional wares. The result is such a pleasure for the eye that no one can deny. I have begun to carve my own paddles and use these to put textures and patterns into my pots. I feel even more connected to this process because the people of these ancient Southeastern cultures are believed to be ancestors of our present day Iroquoian tribes.
I have had the opportunity to study the pottery that our own Wyandot ancestors created. These forms and designs made so long ago resonate with me as I search for my own roots and my history with this land. Making pottery is a native tradition that helps me to learn about who I am and what it means to be Wyandot. With these techniques and inspiration from the natural world I aim to make uplifting works of art. With traditional vessel forms as a starting point I wish to develop the sculptural elements to stretch the limits of the clay and let the pieces grow from my hands. I see the pots as formations that are part of the natural world. I am led by the Creator who leaves the trace of his design in every flower and seed. My intention is for my handiwork to point to His greater work."
Artist Show Statement (April 2009)...
"The work in this show is the result of my study with my uncle, Richard Zane Smith who lives in Wyandotte, Oklahoma. My family and I moved to Wyandotte one year ago with the goal of learning traditional pottery techniques and becoming more connected with our native roots. It has been a great pleasure to be able to spend a whole year sitting across the table from my childhood hero and have many great conversations about what it means to be Wyandot. Even though a lot of cultural awareness has been lost to by the tribe itself, there are a few individuals who have made it their life’s work to revive the remnants of a lost legacy. There is a rich tradition that ties us to this continent and this land and the first people who lived here in such a unique way. There has been much work done lately to collect and gather fragments of the language that still exist on wax cylinders and written texts and compile them in a single source. It is really encouraging to see the language being brought back for the kids in the schools here. What a complete reversal in attitude from the boarding school days when kids were punished severely for speaking in their own native tongues.
Back to pottery, though… I have had the unique opportunity to study aboriginal pottery techniques with a world renowned master of the art. I have had the chance to learn ancient ways of working the surface of the clay. The techniques that I have learned were practiced for many years and then abandoned. I see the shards that were left behind as a visual track towards a different way of thinking. It is okay to take the time that is necessary to create beautiful objects. This is demonstrated everywhere by the creator who designs the forms of beauty that make our world exist.
My inspiration comes from the natural world. I see the trees with their erect extremities in constant expression of praise to the creator. I feel that we have a lot to learn from these great austere beings. I intend for my work to issue forth from my hands with the same thoughtful motion as a pine cone opening to release its seeds. I see the current modern world as compost that new life will eventually devour and purify anew."
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