I have spent the better part of 20 years developing a language within the world of pots. Cultures throughout the world and throughout the millennia have used pots not only to contain food, but also to contain allegory. They are extensions of our bodies. They tell the story of origins of the world and create spaces for our bodies to begin the afterlife. They are objects to house nourishment and also objects that signify scarcity.
My most recent vessels are part of a new body of work I’m exploring. The exterior surface of these cups is developed by me applying lipstick and kissing them over and over and over. Reapplying lipstick. Repeat. Potters often talk about cups as intimate objects, a way to ascribe closeness to a common utilitarian form, but in the process of conscientiously touching them with my mouth, they felt anything but. Repeatedly kissing the cold porcelain surface, I found myself almost brought to tears. This object so often associated with warmth and comfort, felt very removed and distant. I have also started working on a collection of paper cuttings and paintings. And while these may seem to operate in a different vein, these too, are attempting to reconcile stories about my origins as a human. How I think about my place in my family, in the universe and in my own being. These images are ways I work out my questions to create clarity out of mystery.
Emily Schroeder Willis received her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2006. She was awarded the Jerome Fellowship from the Northern Clay Center and the Sage Scholarship from the Archie Bray Foundation. She has been an artist-in-residence/visiting artist at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana, the Zentrum für Keramik in Berlin, Germany, the Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada and Watershed Center for the Ceramics Arts in Maine. In 2012, she was a presenter at Arrowmont’s Utilitarian Clay Conference where Objective Clay, a ceramics collective she is currently part of, was formed. Presently, she lives in Chicago where she is an Associate Professor, Adjunct at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
© Emily Schroeder Willis