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Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Michelle Erickson

hampton,
USA

Michelle Erickson is a graduate of The College of William and Mary with a B.F.A. in Fine and Performing Arts. In addition to her considerable contemporary ceramic work, Ms. Erickson has over twenty years experience in working with 17th- and 18th-century reproduction pottery.

Her exquisite recreations and contemporary pieces have won critical acclaim internationally and been featured in many national and international publications. As owner of Michelle Erickson Pottery, Inc., she reproduces ceramics from archeological and acquired collections for organizations such as Colonial Williamsburg, the National Park Service, Parks Canada, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Historic Deerfield. She has lectured and demonstrated her work widely for scholarly groups and institutions that include Williamsburg’s Antiques Forum, Winterthur Collectors Circle, Sotheby’s learning weekends, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the St Louis Museum of Art, the University of Wisconsin, the British Museum, the Potteries Museums at Stoke on Trent, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, and The Smithsonian Corcoran Graduate Studies course lecture.

Examples of her contemporary work are in the collections of the Mint Museum of Craft and Design; The Museum of Art and Design, NY; The Peabody Essex; The Long Beach Museum of Art; the Milwaukee Art Museum; The Chipstone Foundation; The New-York Historical Society; the Potteries Museums, Stoke on Trent; Yale University Art Gallery; The Carnegie Museum of Art; and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. She has consulted on and designed ceramics for several major motion pictures such as The Patriot, The Time Machine, The New World and the recent HBO series John Adams. Also Ms. Erickson has co-authored a series of articles Illustrating her seminal work in the rediscovery of arcane ceramic techniques in the prestigious annual journal Ceramics in America edited by Robert Hunter and published by The Chipstone Foundation, Milwaukee WI.

Ms. Erickson was commissioned by Jamestown 2007 to create an original artwork in clay as the official gift presented to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll during her historic visit to Jamestown May 4th 2007 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of the first continuous English settlement America.

Feminist Artist Statement

My work is based conceptually and physically on the history of ceramic objects and the role they play in the communication of social and political ideals. Examining the cultural legacy evidenced in historical ceramics during the advent of colonialism presents the opportunity to explore contemporary issues such as war, slavery, power, and class. My work is narrative in nature incorporating 25 years of research experience in rediscovering lost ceramic techniques. My extensive working knowledge of historical ceramic technology allows me to authentically recreate, through form, function, and design, icons of ceramic history in a contemporary context expanding the long tradition of ceramic objects as tools to instigate social and political change. My goal is to communicate ideas as well as document the extremity of the human condition. Ceramics act as inanimate witnesses to our cultural and social history. Whether used, broken and discarded as trash, or revered and treasured, ceramics shape our understanding of the past and provide an endless resource to re-examine the present in which issues of war, slavery, power, and survival continue to dominate the struggle for human rights and equality. As poignantly stated by Hilary Clinton: “Women’s rights are human rights.”

<p>paradise lost</p>

paradise lost

Paradise Lost

This porcelain dish, the second in a series of contemporary political commentary, was inspired by the structure and composition of 16th-century French potter Bernard Palissy’s fecundity dish. The first dish in the series, Liberty on Leave (now in the collection of The Mint Museum of Craft and Design) is a response to the initiation and declaration of the 2003 Iraq war and the policies of George W Bush. In both works, Palissy’ figure of Fecundity, the goddess of fertility, is transformed into Liberty accompanied with historic and modern iconography about the issues of war and politics in the Middle East.

Paradise Lost created in 2008 after years of brutal warfare in the region reveals the harsh realities of the Bush administration policies. Liberty is literally and figuratively stripped to the bone. Her cherubic offspring reduced to children of war clad in gas masks wielding machine guns as big as they are. As the title would suggest the Middle East, the birthplace of man, has been transformed- the barren seed of warfare has devoured the fertile ground of the proverbial garden. An American flag, faded and fragmented, drapes the skeletal frame of Liberty her armor the vestige of her once flowing robes. In order to take up arms she must relinquish the torch of freedom, which falls by the wayside, while the tablet engraved with the date of America’s own independence lays like a toppled tombstone beneath her feet. The tarnished presidential seal fills the circular reserves on the border and the cornucopia baskets of fruits and flowers are replaced with the familiar shell oil logo. The masks of comedy and drama representing art and culture are superimposed with death heads and finally the 21st century emblems of the Red Cross, Crescent, Star, and Lion represent symbolically and literally the consequence of war to all humanity.

paradise lost

Paradise Lost

This porcelain dish, the second in a series of contemporary political commentary, was inspired by the structure and composition of 16th-century French potter Bernard Palissy’s fecundity dish. The first dish in the series, Liberty on Leave (now in the collection of The Mint Museum of Craft and Design) is a response to the initiation and declaration of the 2003 Iraq war and the policies of George W Bush. In both works, Palissy’ figure of Fecundity, the goddess of fertility, is transformed into Liberty accompanied with historic and modern iconography about the issues of war and politics in the Middle East.

Paradise Lost created in 2008 after years of brutal warfare in the region reveals the harsh realities of the Bush administration policies. Liberty is literally and figuratively stripped to the bone. Her cherubic offspring reduced to children of war clad in gas masks wielding machine guns as big as they are. As the title would suggest the Middle East, the birthplace of man, has been transformed- the barren seed of warfare has devoured the fertile ground of the proverbial garden. An American flag, faded and fragmented, drapes the skeletal frame of Liberty her armor the vestige of her once flowing robes. In order to take up arms she must relinquish the torch of freedom, which falls by the wayside, while the tablet engraved with the date of America’s own independence lays like a toppled tombstone beneath her feet. The tarnished presidential seal fills the circular reserves on the border and the cornucopia baskets of fruits and flowers are replaced with the familiar shell oil logo. The masks of comedy and drama representing art and culture are superimposed with death heads and finally the 21st century emblems of the Red Cross, Crescent, Star, and Lion represent symbolically and literally the consequence of war to all humanity.

made in china

Made In China

Using the 18th century Blanc de Chine figure of Quanyin as a springboard Made in China plays off the history of the importing of Chinese porcelain to make a statement about the state of ‘china trade’ in the 21st century. The 8-armed goddess of prosperity holds a variety of symbols and objects that put this theme in a modern context. She is adorned with crossed bullet bands and pearls wielding an AK 47 and a large gem, as well as the Olympic symbol, a gas mask a yen and dollar sign and a fan in the form of the shell oil emblem. Seated in the top cup of a tripartite pickle dish embellished with pearls and natural shells, bullet shells, and shell oil ‘shells’, her elaborate stand created from jars of face creams and beauty ointments reference the ‘prunus’ design blanc de chine wares created by the English and European porcelain makers in imitation of the Chinese imported wares. The three- shell dish is irreverently marked with the iconographic “Made In China” and the Chinese characters of the same phrase run down her back.

There are many layers of interpretation historically socially and politically that allude to the idea that American and European interests are in fact the driving force as well as the benefactors of modern China trade. However the work also references the period in history when the east opens to the west through Dutch trade with China, when Chinese porcelain was the most elite and desired material in the western world. Sought after by royalty this rarity transformed to commodity becomes the driving force behind western ceramics for the next 200 years and established the mercantile relationship with the east that exists today.

Fossil Teapot

Shell Pickle Stand

slip cast press molded and hand built porcelain

Octopus Junk Teapot

Thrown and handbuilt, multiple clay bodies with underglaze cobalt decoration.

Front and Centerpiece

Timepeace

thrown and hand built with photographic ceramic transfer and enamel painted decoration

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18 North Mallory Street
hampton, 23663
USA

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