Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair, Chicago, Illinois
Ceramics Monthly: What current trends in ceramics are engaging to you? Where do you see yourself and your work within the context of those trends?
Emilie Bouvet-Boisclair: A trend I have noticed is the use of narrative. Phrases like “pottery is political” are now part of the ceramic lexicon. Strong work emerges from art that has conviction.
A mug or bowl is an approachable object; it beckons to be picked up and turned around, thus it becomes a unique way to start a conversation with the user. My work speaks to conservation and basic rights for the animals and humans that inhabit this earth. I have created nesting bowls that tell the story of faulty fishing practices, and often represent animals with expressive faces in my work. Fish and birds are frequent subject matter. While they don’t have eyebrows or facial characteristics that help us connect emotionally with other animals, like dogs or cats, by adding an element of character and playfulness, I hope to foster a deeper connection and speak to their intelligence and their right to thrive in healthy habitats.
Another trend in contemporary ceramics is letting the properties of clay and glaze show in finished works. Sculptures are enveloped with drippy or pock-marked glazes. Vases are altered in a way that shows the generous nature of wet clay.
I apply this concept to my pieces in a subtle manner. A delicately painted bird teapot may have a roughly formed tree-branch handle and almost crudely sculpted flower accents to round out a composition while allowing areas of interest to remain the focal point.
CM: What techniques do you use to make your work and why?
EBB: I collect new techniques and add them to my mental library of decoration and mark making. I use inlay, sgraffito, tinted clays used as slips or marbled together, and gold luster applications on my pieces.
Drawing from an oil-painting background, I often layer different techniques on top of each other, say an orange-tinted slip brushed on greenware, finished with a touch of translucent maize glaze added after bisque firing, which adds depth to the color. Looseness and spontaneity of background brush strokes helps to add movement to a piece. I also use tinted slips at attachment points for added interest in the sculpted elements of a piece, letting it ooze around the edges. I am interested in the honesty of the handmade item. I want to leave elements of the making process in the finished work.