Emily Schroeder Willis

Artist Statement

“I am sorry to have wearied you with so long a letter but I did not have time to write you a short one.”

~ 17th c. French philosopher & mathematician, Blaise Pascale

I love this quote by Blaise Pascale and the way he speaks about the economy of words. In many ways, I feel this same way about the economy of my work; to say enough without saying too much. In the past few years I have been trying to simplify the work I make, constantly asking myself, how much is too much? What is essential and what is excess? I try to make every mark on the surface of my work matter, every dart necessary, every line indispensable.

Each pot I create shifts into form through pinching and darting the surface of the clay. My fingertips guide the shape of the vessel, creating lines, giving rise to the visual landscape of my work. Through this slow and intimate process of pinching, I create a different type of relationship between the viewer and object. My fingerprints act as a brush stroke on the surface of the clay, each pinch making a formal impression of the hand that created it. Simplicity and the mark of the hand are important to my work, which steps back to a time where work isn't about production, but rather the touch of a fingertip.

-- Emily Schroeder Willis


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 and at the Alberta College of Art and Design in Canada. In 2012, she was a presenter at Arrowmont’s Utilitarian Clay Conference. Currently, she lives in Chicago where she is an Instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.