Chandra Debuse first found clay at a community clay studio as a cathartic outlet for her emotionally trying job, at a shelter for abused women and children. As her obsession for clay grew, she made the choice to omit any depiction of misfortune and tribulation from her ceramic art.
Debuse explains the mission of her practice, “The daily act of nourishment should be an uplifting moment and I wanted my ceramics to reflect that and contribute to a person’s positive outlook. In both practice and product, I wanted my pottery to speak about resilience, delight, humor, and celebration.”
Debuse went from her local community clay studio to a post-bacc program at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 2006-07 and then went to earn her MFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville in 2010. Debuse went on to do year-long residencies at Armory Art Center in Florida and Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. In 2012, she was named NCECA’s Emerging Artist in Seattle, Washington, and she is currently a full-time studio potter in Kansas City, Missouri.
Both the form and content of Debuse’s pottery bring forth playfulness and borderline absurdity. Her bubbly forms, bright colors, and illustrative drawings come together to remind us of cartoons and childhood mischief. The depiction of determined animals such as naughty squirrels, trouble making elephants, and rascally possums allows the users to connect to this contemporary pottery. The user can subconsciously feel themselves within Debuse’s invented narratives.
Which of Debuse’s characters do you see in yourself? Tell us in the comments!