Sheltered Eggistence, 2010
Thrown, hand-modeled and textured
stoneware, cone six glazed, stained and fired
12" x 12" x 9"
Courtesy the artist
Vanderbilt Artists Exhibit
Work by Artists from Vanderbilt University's Department of Art
(October 21 – December 9, 2010)
Susan DeMay was born in Upstate New York in the small town of Newark, and was introduced to hand-building with clay at Clifton Springs High School. In 1977, she received her BA at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1979, DeMay moved to Nashville and began her graduate level education, including the programs in art at Peabody College at Vanderbilt and the Appalachian Center for Craft in Smithville. Her graduate studies in clay and glass at the Craft Center also led to a master's degree in Art Education through Tennessee Technological University. She established her studio in Smithville in the early 1980's. DeMay also began teaching at Vanderbilt University at that time. She exhibits widely and her work has recently been included in a number of books on contemporary ceramics: 500 Plates and Chargers, 500 Vases, and Ceramics for Beginners: Surfaces, Glazes and Firing.
The philosophical basis of my work in clay has always been a balance between meaningful work and creative play. Throughout the years, my creative play has largely operated within the parameters of functional and decorative pottery. Having established a distinctive style years ago, my explorations within the boundaries of those vessels and wall works has involved the development of various tabletop wares, the introduction of new glazes and colors, and the creation of a variety of images and motifs imposed on my pots as well as the flat pieces. Over the decades, the demand for these lines has been strong, and this satisfying work has thankfully provided a regular income.
After going full time with my teaching position at Vanderbilt University, I began teaching sculptural clay and have moved into the production of some sculptural forms in clay for myself. Building on the techniques of the potter's wheel and hand-building construction methods, I started playing around with the egg form, toroids, and some motifs found in nature such as birds and leaves. I primarily like abstracted forms with a narrative message within that structure. I have enjoyed generating ideas that are embedded in the egg idea, and the fun of puns has added to the sense of creative play, something that I am always striving for in my work. I never seem to run out of ideas with this new series, and, while I am not sure where all of this will take me, I have faith that it will continue to be meaningful and rewarding.