Teapot, 6”H x 8”W x 6” D, Stoneware clay thrown and altered
Fish Bowl, 6”H x 10”W x 9”D, Stoneware clay thrown and altered
Craftsmen Vase, 11” x 9” x 3” Stoneware clay thrown and altered, $550
Squared Soy Bottle, 4”x4”x2” Stoneware clay thrown and altered, $180
Every day I work at the wheel. Over and over again I focus my attention on the unruly clay and bring my mind and body together in an intention to center it and create forms filled with breath and energy. For more than 40 years I have found myself drawn to this effort, trying to make pots that possess strength and clarity. Throughout that time I have been able to wander along a path that regularly courses between inspiration and familiarity, passion and comfort.
Day in and day out, I make forms that please me, that honor the obsessions that have always driven my inquiries: Line: how it moves around a piece, out of the rim and back into the body. Balance: how pots feel in the hand when lifted or poured. Tension: how clay moves in ways that speak of a vitality pushing at the seams.
Architecture, the organic structure of nature around me, particular feelings about color and light, and my sense of the relationship between form and use, play heavily in the instincts and decisions that go into making these pieces.
I am keenly aware that along with these pots I am creating the quality of my time. I am crafting a daily existence filled with meaning and reward. Along with pitchers and covered jars, I am constructing the very manner in which time passes. Hours go by immersed in threads of interest. I wander, I struggle, I sink into a landscape dominated by shape, volume, scale and texture and I watch the interaction of those elements unfold over and over again in an evolution of my work.
These feelings, which underpin my studio life, value the journey as well as the destination. This seems to be almost an anachronism today. But there it is. A truth I have lived and loved.
Ellen Shankin has been a studio potter in the mountains of Virginia since 1977. She received her B.F.A. with honors from the N.Y. State School of Ceramics at Alfred. Recipient of a 1990 National Endowment Visual Arts Fellowship Grant, and a 2001 Virginia Museum Grant, she exhibits her work nationally and has pieces in the collections of numerous Museums, including the International Museum of Ceramics at Alfred, The Mint Museum, The Taubman Museum , The Crocker and The San Angelo Museum of Art. Her work has appeared in many periodicals and books of Ceramic Art. Ellen is a founding member of “16 Hands” a regional craft tour and served 6 years on the board of directors of “Round the Mountain: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Network”. Since 1992 she has pursued a growing interest in teaching workshops and has been a guest lecturer and instructor in more than 50 universities, art centers, and craft schools in the US, South America and Italy.