Fields of Concentration
- Course: The Dirt on Function
- Course: Drawing from Experience
- Tutorial: Make, Eat, Think: The Art of Breaking Bread
- Tutorial: La Comida de las Americas
In addition to an exhibition of ceramic vessels, this Plan includes a history of ceramist Karen Karnes’ life and work, and the societal and historical ideologies it stood beside, as well as the transcription of an interview with local ceramist Micheal Boylen regarding Karnes’ work. It also includes an independent project titled “Good Eating: An argument to reject the centralized, globalized, mass production of foodstuffs and become a participant in the slow foods movement.
At the root of these studies is a hunger to create; I have been fortunate to begin working with clay during my time here. The process of working with clay has consumed me since I began. The material receives any impression of the hand readily, though it does not always respond with the maker’s intended effect. Working with this material has allowed me to consider my longstanding creative relationship with food academically. Involving myself so completely in the process of creating with natural materials that relate intimately to food has led me to the conclusion that our modern world is moving too fast, and there is a truth to the objects that exist after the long, slow, process of creating ceramic wares, and an importance to foods that were made in a similarly slow process. We must become more acquainted not only with what we eat but also with the origin of the possessions we keep.
Karnes’ wood-fired pots allowed her a new freedom in color expression. Many of her pots came out of the kiln cool blue and neon green. These pots were very much different from other contemporary wood-fired pots that were natural cascading browns with color achieved solely from wood ash or with other naturalistic glazes. They were very different from the aesthetically natural pots she made earlier in her own career, as well. Her pots still, however, referenced the “organic wholeness” of the forms she had developed over the many years of her career.
The meat industry of today is a biological tragedy, a clear indication that the field of biotechnology has completely overstepped its bounds. We have engineered not only plants and seeds, but also living animals whose existence is so unnatural that many cannot even reproduce naturally. Their entire existence is contingent upon human intervention. Take, for example, the American Thanksgiving turkey. More than 99% of the turkeys consumed in America are a breed called the Broad-Breasted White. “In mature form, they cannot fly, forage or mate. These turkeys are only one example: most of the meat consumed in America has been genetically engineered to create lethargic animals whose purpose in life is to get fat and easy to control and kill. I do not believe that it could be construed as “good” that the meat that most Americans eat derives from wildly unhealthy animals, whose life depends on steady streams of antibiotics to keep them from reacting to the disease imminent all around them.