Together, Becoming

a collection by Sarah Graeme

June 2022

  Artist Statement

 

     Together, Becoming combines ceramic forms with cultivated plant fibres using weaving and basketry techniques. This combination and overlap in craft medium serves as a personal reflection within the context of materials, relationships, and place. As an artist of settler descent living on T'Sou-ke and Pacheedaht territories, the relationship between art practice and materials in the context of identity and environment is the question at the core of this work.

    What is the true environmental cost of working with our materials? As a settler artist how may I engage with land-based materials in a respectful way? How do we create with consideration and thoughtfulness for the world around us? These questions have formed into an ongoing body of work that explores the inherent story of materials: who they are, where they come from, and what responsibilities lie in using them.

   I began using plants as a way to be in a more direct relationship with my materials through the practice of cultivation. The plant materials used are domesticated varieties, are non-native, and are cultivated, grown, and gathered on T'Sou-ke, Pacheedaht , and W̱SÁNEĆ territories by myself or those in close relationship.

     

      By caring for the plants, they continue to provide weaving materials in return. When working within a seasonal cycle there are natural limitations to material use. I only have access to what I gather each annual cycle, and then wait until it is time to harvest again. In contrast, working with clay, glazes, and firing opens many more complicated questions around their environmental cost as finite resources.

 

   Over the past six months I have been very fortunate to begin exploring different atmospheric firing methods ranging from low temperature smoke firing to high temperature wood and salt firing. Using these atmospheric methods allows the atmosphere of the firing to inform the surfaces of my work, thus eliminating the use of additional glaze materials. 

 

    The tension held in the vessels between the rigidity of clay and malleable weavings mirrors the tension I navigate in creating work with these different materials and the considerations of their environmental cost. As the artist, I imagine my role to be a facilitator in a conversation between the materials, each of us actively participating in the collaboration.

 

    Through this work, I reckon with how to continue creating while being responsible with material consumption. In this way, the vessels serve as containers for reflecting on what is in process, an unfolding dialogue between the artist and materials.