Emily Reason is the Professional Crafts Clay Instructor at Haywood Community College. She holds an MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a BFA from West Virginia University. Emily was a self-employed studio potter for ten years. She has taught and exhibits her work across the United States. Emily lives with her family in Canton, North Carolina where she works in her home studio.
I experience an elemental satisfaction when working with my hands; manipulating and mastering a material and technique through repetition and problem-solving. In this way, I am deeply connected to craft. Through craft I become part of something greater than myself; aligning with tradition and community. Human reverence for craft is embedded in our existence. Ingrained within craft is a strong sense of nostalgia which connects us to history, conjures memories and is a powerful vehicle for communicating ideas, emotions and stories. I see craft as a discipline, a history to draw from and set of parameters to push. It is an ideal of beauty which I express with great care and labor. Craft is the identity with which I mark each piece.
I work with clay, which is at once durable and fragile, to reinforce the nature of memory and give it form. By throwing, rolling, stretching, pinching and pressing this basic and responsive material, I create order and meaning. Glaze and fire bring a visual depth of surface and produce an emotive quality. As traditional and versatile materials, I use stoneware and high-fire glazes in part to celebrate my influences. Surface variation imbues the works with a sense of movement or calm. Hand-work and the ceramic process provide me space to reflect and meditate on the metaphors within my work.
Because of its lasting quality, ceramics act as vital historical record and indicate the deep connection of people to objects. History has provided us with a wealth of ceramic tomb artifacts- surrogate objects which ensure the soul’s well-being in the afterlife. They are as enigmatic and awe-inspiring as nature. My visceral reaction to these objects and the idea of memorializing a subject beyond a single life has had a strong hold on me and has influenced the nature of my work.
My constant quest for beauty involves both formal and existential inquires. I see beauty as inextricably linked to nature and spirituality. In nature and in object-making I find that which moves, calms and elevates me. The labor and meditation I experience in the making process is intended to impact the interpretation of my work. A seasonal change, a fleeting encounter with wildlife, or a particular man-made structure on the landscape cause me pause; a brief and spiritual moment that reminds me of my humanness, my senses and surroundings.
I vacillate between a romantic ideal of beauty, and the more real, complicated nature of beauty. In its most basic regard, beauty is a means for nostalgic expression, my opportunity to savor and convey affinity. Through the labor and love of craft, I establish beauty in form. I seek line quality and volume that emulate natural growth and movement, reinforced with alluring surface, deep and varied. I use beauty to call into question our associations with the images presented to deal with complex dynamics such as domestic and wild, order and chaos.