Sunday, May 2, 2010

Senior Thesis Show Allison R. Craver

There’s pottery in our kitchen. Honestly, there’s pottery all over our house but more is in the kitchen. Functional work, food-related stuff – that’s what my hands do with clay and how my mind sees stoneware so when Allison Craver said that her pottery rarely belongs in a kitchen my brain hiccuped.

Allison came to Alfred for art with no intention of working with ceramics. She came for the solid and sensible reason that the School of Art and Design is a good deal. When she began exploring what Alfred offered she found herself absorbed by clay – the challenges of clay’s technical issues, the varied systems for construction and the chemistry that creates and solves problems all drew her in but then she realized the soft side of clay. The community.

She became entwined with the many layers of friendship and camaraderie that the ceramics community offers. Students have to work together to load and fire a kiln; to share the space inside the fire chambers; to move the massive weight of bricks and shelves and work. Clay students rely on each other because they have to and then because that’s the way they work.

Allison is interested in personal spaces and sculptural forms. She makes bedroom boxes, forms that could be used to hold coins, jewelry, keepsakes, special things but not food. Soap dishes are in her realm; oatmeal bowls are not. She works with a series of molds so her pieces are constructed in segments but are of varied size and texture. The detail in them caught my eye when I roamed the senior work area one day so I asked to talk with her.

Allison attributes her interest in art to her family. “I grew up in an artistic, creative household and didn’t realize till later that some parents don’t make things.”

She began actively drawing in a sketch book when she was six and she just carried it around drawing her cat and things in her house. For now, Allison seems interested in what she is trying to accomplish thought she seems not to like all her work - not an unusual situation when one is so immersed in a project and seeking some ideal. She looks at her outcomes and finds the next direction to continue her work.

The work she will display at her Senior Thesis Show on Saturday will include a variety of her special boxes posed on pedestals decorated with terra cotta clay pressed into molds to create large plinth structures. The structures will be about stability; the boxes – fragility; the process – an evolving understanding of space.

For the summer Allison Craver will be at Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts in Newcastle, Maine. After that it’s intense work for four or five years and then maybe grad school.
To see the work of clay, fabric, paint and ideas at the Senior Thesis shows be on the Alfred University Campus from about 4 till 7 p.m. on Saturday, May 7.

Interesting insect caught in a bag - inspiration comes from many sources.

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