Artist Statement - Michelle Coakes
My work in clay is currently somewhat eclectic.
I create two distinct bodies of work.
One body of work is vessel-based, yet exaggerated in one or more ways. Sources of inspiration for these pieces include whisky flasks, railroad oil cans, and baskets. Various vessel forms (i.e. teapots, ewers, jars, etc.) are explored within the context of these objects to create this body of work.
Pieces from this body of work are the ones that are most often included in the national, regional, and local exhibits listed on my resume.
The other body of work is more directly functional in nature. I have recently moved to the country – a few miles north of Taylorville, Illinois. And I have a studio and showroom at my home, where area residents visit my shop and purchase work from me directly. They often admire the more sculptural work, but are much more likely to purchase the functional work.
I don’t want to imply that I am “dumbing down” my work for my neighbors. Nothing could be further from my mind. The people in my community, for whom I intend the more functional work, are hard-working, sensible people. They want unique objects that are aesthetically pleasing. But, they also need those pieces to work for them. They consider the pieces thoughtfully. “Will the glaze in this bowl stand up to an electric beater?” “I like a BIG cup of coffee in the morning. Can you make me a BIG mug?” “I’d like a soap dish that won’t let the soap get gooey.” Almost every interaction I have with customers reaffirms my belief that everyone understands pottery – how it works, how it should feel, etc.