Rebecca Chappell

Artist Statement

Pots can be covert instruments for carrying messages. Objects that over time, through intimate actions with the human body, slowly reveal surprises and meanings that are contained within. They are a subtle way of communicating that need not be obviously aggressive or confrontational in order to have presence and importance. Patience, curiosity, and a willingness to play are all required to reveal the surprises that pots for use can contain. Pottery runs parallel with life but never can equal it. It can contain sustenance, hold, provide, and offer it, but cannot breathe in the same way. Pots for use are dependant on imbedded memories, as well as the substances they hold or present in order to gain importance.

The familiarity of pottery is a very useful tool when I engineer my work. Everyone knows and uses dishes on a daily basis. They are comfortable and readily accepted into the home for an intimate touch, which is consequently often overlooked or dismissed as a result of this familiarity. It is an acquired atrophy of the senses. When does a motion of the hand become like breathing? I question how much of the familiar pottery vocabulary needs to remain in order to maintain these types of relationships.

I am interested in making objects that require subtle, playful interactions. Consider the tiny multi-part flower vases. The water- to - flower ratio of these containers is restricted, resulting in an object that demands daily attention and touch in order for the flowers to survive. These vases are contraptions that evoke the function of toys, with multiple parts making subtle noise; preordered puzzles. I see them as objects that need attention and care from an outside force. They are not part of a still life in the background or something completely stagnant. They ask to be considered and noticed; in fact they depend on it. The interactive object works hand- in- hand with life, becoming a quiet machine that initiates movement invented by the maker, and required of the user.

The intensity of engineering a pot for specific use is an interesting challenge. The field of operation in specific pottery is drastically narrower than that of generalized pottery. A certain amount of compression exists in this smaller window of working. I look to find breath within a tight, enclosed space. Measurement, calculation, calibration, and proportion all need to be accounted for; as well as the consideration of form, color, and all the characteristics of the substance for which the pot is being engineered. I feel much more comfortable working within this restricted, self-imposed enclosure. A reduced window of operation allows a smaller set of working rules. If the problem set before me was “make a bowl,” my mind feels overwhelmed and stunted. The possibilities are infinite. What kind of bowl, what shape, what size, what weight, color, patterning; it would go on and on. Assigning what will go in the bowl is like creating a conceptual fence that allows me to move in a certain restricted area. I am not viewing restriction or limitations as something pejorative, but as a way to allow myself to move and make decisions.

-- Rebecca Chappell