Emerging Ceramic Artist to Watch: Shay Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Above: Gray Whale, 30 ft. (9 m.) in length, raw clay, wooden armature installation, Cypress, California, 2008.

Gray Whale, 37 ft. (11 m.) in length, raw clay, wooden armature, “permanent” installation completed during a residency at the Archie
Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Helena, Montana, 2008.




I believe in the natural cycles of the earth. I often find truth within these patterns of life and death. While cities grow, wars rage and industry climbs, nature’s pulse is just as persistent. Migratory paths remain, rivers continue to run downstream, wolves hunt, and insects are hatched.

My artwork is an attempt to create a meaningful connection between myself and the natural world. Often this connection seems fleeting. It is based on observation and the physical act of working with material such as clay and wood. This physical relationship also allows me to explore my spiritual, emotional and psychological concerns for the human experience.

My wet clay installation series focuses on the gray whale. These mammals have long, daunting migrations they must survive each year. I like to describe my installations as “migrations interrupted.” This puts a forceful, crude human twist on an elegant natural cycle. I find comfort in meditating on their constant migratory state.



This was excerpted from Ceramics Monthly magazine’s
“Emerging Artists 2009” feature, which appeared in the May 2009 issue.
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