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Ceramic artist Emily Schroeder Willis has an acute awareness of subtly –  in color, texture, and form – narrowing the focus of the user and encouraging even more intimacy in her work than functional pottery already calls for. The focus shifts to her gentle pinching process, the line quality where two colors meet, and the comparison of muted hues. It’s rare to find pots that are not blown out with radicle forms, iconic imagery, or ultra-gloss glaze. To use Willis is to eat off of a painting.

“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…”

Willis received her MFA from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2006 and is the recipient of major awards for her work inclding the Jerome Fellowship from the Northern Clay Center, in 2001, and the Sage Scholarship from the Archie Bray Foundation. Currently, she is an instructor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and maintains a studio in the Ravenswood neighborhood.

After learning about her work it’s not surprising that she finds inspiration in the words of the 17th-century French philosopher & mathematician, Blaise Pascale:

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

-Blaise Pascale

What do you think of the subtlety of Willis’ ceramic art? Tell us in the comments!


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