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Written by: Leah Moxley Teigrob, Gallery Assistant

 

There has long been a connection between politics and art, but what role does fine craft play in this relationship? After one too many negative comments suggesting she keep politics out of her practice, one Saskatoon artist is speaking out.

Work by Jessica Putnam-Phillips. Source.

Ceramic artist Carole Epp is responsible for the Instagram account @potteryispolitical, designed to highlight the marriage between ceramics and politics. She soon discovered she was not alone in her pursuit. Sharing both historic and contemporary examples of political pottery, the movement aims to create awareness of fine craft’s ability to exist beyond being beautiful or even functional. To suggest that art exists only for the purpose of beauty is a quick way to offend any artist whose work reaches far beyond its visual appeal.

Epp further discusses this topic in a post on her blog:

“There are so many beautiful voices out there relaying the context of our time through their work. From personal stories to headline news. The magic ability of the vessel to take those narratives, those commentaries and put them straight into the audience’s hands, into the domestic sphere of the home, into the workplace through a coffee cup on an office desk, is beautifully subversive.”

In the post, Epp quotes fellow ceramic artist Carter Gillies. He suggests that even the act of supporting handmade is a political one:

“The opportunity to drink from a handmade cup is as much a feature of politics as the availability of jobs. We claim this for ourselves and for the wellbeing and future of our community. THIS is the shape of the world we seek to bring about.”

Carter Gillies. Source.

In Epp’s recent functional ceramic work — some of which was displayed earlier this year in SCC Gallery exhibition The Narrative Dish II — she combines political and aesthetic purpose more than ever:

“This series is the first time I’ve combined the darker themes of my sculptural work with the whimsy and illustrative style of my functional wares. I feel in many ways that this body of work is the two parts of my creative process finally being in conversation.”

Carole Epp’s works in “The Narrative Dish II.”

If you’re interested in joining the conversation, we encourage you to follow Epp’s new Instagram account and read the post on her blog.

 

Then tell us: What do you think? Is craft always political? Do you prefer to keep art and politics separate? Share your thoughts in the comments below.