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Heather Mae Erickson

Rituals of the Maker

robert c. turner teaching fellow


Heather Mae Erickson Rituals of the Maker March 22 – May 14, 2012 Cohen Center for the Arts School of Art and Design Alfred University 55 North Main St. Alfred, ny 14802

hme@heathermaeerickson.com

This catalog was produced by the Division of Ceramic Art with generous financial support provided by The Marcianne Mapel Miller Fund for Ceramic Art Alfred University, Alfred, ny. © 2012 Division of Ceramic Art, School of Art and Design Alfred University 1 Saxon Drive Alfred, ny 14802 nyscc.alfred.edu

Catalog design Nick Kuder, Division of Expanded Media Photography Brian Oglesbee, Wellsville, ny Catalog coordination Anne Currier, Division of Ceramic Art Printed by St. Vincent Press, Rochester, ny All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without written permission except in case of brief annotations embodied in critical articles and reviews. i s b n- 1 0 : 0 9 8 4 0 0 7 8 22 i s b n- 1 3 : 9 7 8- 0 - 9 8 4 0 0 7 8 -2-0


The Robert Chapman Turner Teaching Fellowship initiated in 2006, the Robert Chapman Turner Teaching Fellowship is a three-year position within the Division of Ceramic Art in the School of Art and Design at Alfred University that recognizes an emerging artist in the ceramic arts. The Fellowship provides studio time, access to fabrication facilities and teaching opportunities in a supportive environment that promotes the importance of making and the exchange of ideas across genres and among students and faculty. The Fellowship is named in honor of Robert Chapman Turner ( b. 1913  –  d. 2005  ), a distinguished American studio potter recognized for his functional pottery, sculptural vessels and inspired teaching. In 1949, Bob earned his Master of Fine Arts degree from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. From 1949 to 1951, Bob taught at Black Mountain College in North Carolina where he designed and helped construct the pottery studio. Bob returned to Alfred in 1951 and taught ceramics in the School of Art and Design from 1958 until 1979. The book Robert Turner: Shaping Silence: A Life in Clay, published in 2003, celebrates his spiritually resonate life and career. The Robert Chapman Turner Teaching Fellowship is made possible by an endowed gift to Alfred University from Marlin Miller ( au ’54 ).

recipients of the turner teaching fellowship 2009  –  2012 Heather Mae Erickson | mfa 2004, Cranbrook Academy of Art 2006  –  2009 Chris Miller | mfa 2005, School of the Art Institute of Chicago


Fujimoto: A Japanese/American Family porcelain, black walnut 2012


The Maker’s Ritual

Tony & Pauline: Breakfast in Bed porcelain, oak wood 2012

i began my turner fellowship investigations with a glance back to specific events from my past. Choosing a few significant meals and influences in domesticities that surround my history with the rituals of eating, I became wholly engrossed in the memories that shaped me as a human being and a maker. Some are unexplainable and highly personal. In my imagination, these visions of full table settings, with their corresponding titles, created a sort of autobiographical journey.   Memories are oftentimes treasured, horrific or momentous glimpses into a past that possibly inspires the future. I am transporting myself into specific conversations, events, and trips from the past to design new moments that show a residue or morphology and elucidate change when paired with my history, current events and decorative styles of personal interest. A snapshot, created in a split second, can trigger unclear emotions from times past. Some of the moments I revisit cannot be found in a photograph or a video but are only captive in my recollections.   Previous artistic endeavors were greatly influenced by shape, form and volume. Inspiration for containment and display came from my background in traditional ballet, tap, jazz and a position on a precision dance team. These systematic, ritualistic and choreographed involvements framed my interest in this aesthetic throughout my art


making. When creating a functional object, I would consider the container, the act of eating with the ease and aerodynamics of use and interchange these concerns with 2d/3d, shape/form and composition.   Where form originates is a question that puzzles me. I play with notions of how I understand or expect what a named object is supposed to look like. I pose the following as a possibility for further contemplation. I investigate how an object might look depending on what I want it to do functionally. As I adjust and play with notions of perception and expectations, the question about form is worthy of deeper inquiry. My intuition in the studio directs me to formulate situations where the guidelines are reversible. Is it an imposition on the design? As a maker, I fluctuate between ideas of pure craftsmanship and design, ingenuity and craft, sculpture and utility; the list is ongoing. I used this paradigm specifically in Tony and Pauline: Breakfast in Bed; the layers of meaning throughout the work touch upon the narrative and extend to process, concept and a commentary on ceramics.   One of the stories I wanted to tell in the form of a table setting was about my father and his job. The fact that my father works on the railroad (as did many of my male relatives) dominated table talk as I was growing up and it became clear to me that I needed to work with the move-

ment, segmentation, and language of trains, tracks, and rail cars. The investigations started with research into csx, the company that employs my father. “How Tomorrow Moves” is their motto. It seemed like a perfect beginning for this project. I printed images of trains, yards, and tracks and thought about every possible angle from which to view this subject matter. Rather than attempt any direct visual representations of the obvious, I tried to capture the sensation of movement suggested by the physical transportation of goods and the interaction of the railroad cars moving across the land. The title Rail and Track first came to mind when I began making molds, using the sledging process where wet plaster is extruded along a track and shaped with a profile tool before it sets up and becomes solid. Fabrication of Rail and Track also recalls my training on the potter’s wheel because I appropriated the cross-sections of two pots that I had thrown. The piece speaks about speed, time, and motion while referencing the movement of the potter’s wheel. In addition to the portability of the individual pieces, and this is equally important to me, the overall configuration suggests interactions and movements along a single line, or perhaps two lines moving in opposite directions. How fitting that the work was created using a rail, a track and a wheel! A version of this paragraph appeared in Studio Potter Magazine, Winter Volume 2011–12, as part of an article, “(My) Parts & (My) Whole”).


For Vince: Holidays in South West Philly. 2102 Gould Street, I chose to set the table as if at the middle of the meal, rather than at the beginning. The oversized table recalls how it felt to be a child at those meals, separated a bit from the adults because of the scale of the tiny Philly row home. The piece illustrates the part of the evening where coffee is served and the table is in a sort of disarray. Dishes are stacked as if in anticipation of use or removal from the table.   I still remember the sounds, smells and colors of the family holiday meals from my childhood; the different shades of green from the fuzzy flocked wallpaper and lots of Vince’s famous side dishes and recipes that we still, to this day, speak of often. Heather Mae Erickson Alfred, ny May 2012

Grandma: I Became a Senior Citizen at 30 porcelain, cherry wood 2012

For Kala porcelain 2012


Cups of Color porcelain, ash wood 2012


Place Settings porcelain 2012


Adirondacks: View from the Inn on Lake George porcelain 2012


Rail & Track: Table Talk porcelain, ash wood 2012


Rail & Track: Table Talk porcelain 2012


Rail & Track: Table Talk porcelain 2012


Vince: Holidays in South West Philly. 2102 Gould Street porcelain, poplar wood 2012


Vince: Holidays in South West Philly. 2102 Gould Street porcelain 2012


o.e.s. porcelain 2012


i.o.d. porcelain 2012


f. & a.m. porcelain 2012


i.o.r.g. porcelain 2012


heather mae erickson Education and Research   2004

Master of Fine Arts: Ceramics. Cranbrook Academy of Art. Bloomfield Hills, mi

  2000

Bachelor of Fine Arts: Crafts–Ceramics. University of the Arts. Philadelphia, pa

  Art Education Pre-certification Elementary & Secondary

Fellowships and Residencies   2012–13

Artist in Residence. The University of the Arts. Philadelphia, pa

  2009

Artist Residency. Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center. Skælskør, Denmark

  2008–09 Independence Foundation Arts Fellowship. Philadelphia, pa   2006–09 Resident Artist. The Clay Studio. Philadelphia, pa   2005–06 Artist in Residence. The University of the Arts. Philadelphia, pa   2004

Summer Residency. The Archie Bray Foundation. Helena, mt

Awards, Honors and Public Recognition · select   2011

Elected to the The International Academy of Ceramics. Geneva, Switzerland;

Professional Development Grant. Alfred University. Alfred, ny. Exhibition funds;

Professional Development Grant. Alfred University. Alfred, ny. Ceramic design in China   2009

5th World Ceramic Biennale 2009 Korea International Competition. Icheon, Korea. Honorable Mention

  2008

Faculty Development Grant. The University of the Arts. Philadelphia, pa. Denmark research and residency;

The 8th International Ceramics Competition. Mino, Japan. Honorable Mention for Dinnerware in White;

Chelsea International Fine Arts Competition. Chelsea Museum of Art. New York, ny;

niche Award. Rosen Group. Philadelphia, pa. 1st Place winner. Double finalist: Category: ceramics: molded

  2007

4th World Ceramic Biennale 2007 Korea International Competition. Icheon, Korea. Honorable Mention;

American Craft Show Searchlight Artist. American Craft Council. New York, ny

  2004–05 Fulbright Post-Graduate Research Grant: Ceramic Design.

  Aalto University (previously the University of Art and Design). Helsinki, Finland

  2004

Hunter Douglas Horizon Award. Museum of Arts and Design. New York, ny. 1st Place

Publications · select   2011

Ceramic Bible: Tools & Techniques for the Contemporary Maker. Louisa Taylor. Aurum Press ltd. London, uk


University Teaching Experience   2009–12 Visiting Assistant Professor. Robert Chapman Turner Teaching Fellowship in Ceramic Art

  School of Art and Design. New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. Alfred, ny

  2009–10 Visiting Adjunct Professor. Arcadia University. Glenside, pa   2007–09 Art Adjunct Faculty. Rowan University. Glassboro, nj   2005–09 Crafts Faculty-Lecturer. The University of the Arts. Philadelphia, pa Solo Exhibitions   2012

Rituals of the Maker. Turner Teaching Fellowship Solo Exhibition. Cohen Gallery. Alfred, ny

  2010

Highlights from the Last 10 Years. Random Room Gallery. Alfred, ny

  2009

Designing Dinner. Fine Arts Gallery, Mott College. Flint, mi

  2008

The Industrial Hand: Tableware Design. The Clay Studio. Philadelphia, pa

  2007–08 Refined Dining. Philadelphia International Airport-Terminal d. Philadelphia, pa   2005

Finnspired: An exhibition of Fulbright ceramic designs. The University of Art and Design. Helsinki, Finland

Group Exhibitions · select   2012

American Pottery Festival. Northern Clay Center. Minneapolis, mn

Prototype. Red Lodge Clay Center. Red Lodge, mt

The Language of Line with Josh DeWeese and Sam Chung. Lillstreet Gallery, Chicago, il;

42nd Annual Ceramic Exhibition: Utility in Contemporary Ceramics. Curated by Jared Janovec & Michael Flanagan;

  Crossman Gallery, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Whitewater, wi

Small Favors vii: A benefit exhibition. The Clay Studio. Philadelphia, pa

  2011

More than a Mold: Contemporary Slip Cast Ceramics. Baum Gallery, University of Centeral Arkansas. Conway, ar

Extreme Dirt. Curated by Gwen Chanzit. Denver Art Museum. Denver, co.

The Casting Party. Red Star Studios. Kansas City, mo;

Ceramics: Post-Digital Design. The American Museum of Ceramic Art (amoca). Los Angeles, ca

Bibliography · select   2011

(My) Parts & (My) Whole. Article and images. Studio Potter Magazine. Winter Volume

  2009

Artist/Educator. Juror’s statement. Exhibition catalogue. Rowan University. Glassboro, nj

  2005

Ceramics: A Case Study. Article and photographs. Fulbright Center News magazine. Helsinki, Finland


Director’s Note heather mae erickson’s solo exhibition, Rituals of the Maker, brought to a culmination her three years of teaching, research, and making as The Robert Turner Teaching Fellow. As a close observer of Heather Mae’s commitment to ceramics, I saw her make tools and molds, try different approaches to find form, test new glaze colors, and guide cart after cart, stacked with hundreds of pieces of cast porcelain, from studio to kiln then kiln to studio. Anticipation for this show was heightened by Heather Mae’s secrecy in the studio and her endearing unwillingness to sacrifice the impact of unveiling “the whole”.   The Cohen Center Gallery is a restored Victorian home with hints of domesticity in its architectural details. This part-gallery/part-house offered a fitting context for Heather Mae’s porcelain tableware and wooden tables that recall her memories of shared meals and family interactions. The colors of the glazes and carefully chosen species of wood warmed the atmosphere. The result: a harmonious environment where cognizance meets the tangible.

  I would like to sincerely thank Leslie Bellavance, Dean of the School of Art and Design, and the faculty of the Division of Ceramic Art, who offered their encouragement, support and advice; Shawn Murrey, for his impeccable woodworking and attention to details; Cathy Johnson, for logistical support; Brandi Jessup, Jess Taylor, Jihyun Nam, and the Cohen Gallery interns, Jessica Detweiler, Shelley Park and Becca Smith, for their dedication; Evelyne Leblanc-Roberge, for the photography and design of the exhibition’s publicity; and Nick Kuder, for the design of this catalogue.   Lastly, on behalf of the Alfred community, I want to extend thanks and gratitude to Heather Mae, for sharing her endless and focused passion for teaching and making. Kala Stein Director, The Cohen Center Gallery


The Cohen Center for the Arts was created in 2009 through the generous gift of Michele and Martin Cohen, parents of Adam Cohen, (bfa, au ’03). The Cohen Center Gallery at Alfred University is located at 55 North Main Street in Alfred, New York. The Gallery’s primary focus is to exhibit the work of Alfred University alumni, faculty, and visiting artists. The Cohen Center Gallery is a tool for teaching and learning opportunities; students assist in all facets of the exhibitions, gaining hands-on experience in arts administration, community development, marketing and public relations, design, and management.


Heather Mae Erickson: Rituals of the Maker  

Robert C. Turner Teaching Fellow exhibit catalog

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