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Kimberly in Clay


 There is much to love about working in clay. The feel and sounds of clay in ones hands... The beauty of lines and shapes... Light glowing through porcelain. Drips and movement of glazes. Flowers flowing from vases. The wonder of transformation... Mud becomes a vessel. Wood turns to ash glaze. Intention takes form.

I was lucky to find clay in high school (hooray for art in public schools!) and kept coming back to it through the years via community art centers. I am grateful for spaces of learning and creating and the people who have encouraged and taught me along the way.

- Kimberly Ota

Artist Statement

Through clay, I am exploring contrasts: the physical feel and social connotations of earthy red terra cotta, gritty stoneware and smooth white porcelain; the geometry of sharply cut slabs, flexibility of coils and speed of wheel thrown orbs; the predictable practicality of electric kilns and the beauty of letting go in a community wood firing. The forms I create may feel pleasant but also contain contradictions – rocking shapes holding water, vases with tiny holes asking to be useful, soft round forms marked with hard lines. 


Recently I have focused on making vases. Each vessel aspires to be enjoyed in its own right but made even more complete with just the right branch. I am drawn to and inspired by the lines and movement of ikebana flower arrangements and held by the emotional beauty of sharing flowers in a handmade vase. I like making small work that is a joy to gift, to hold and behold. I like to imagine that anyone can enjoy a little bit of art in their daily life. In a world overwhelmed by greed, injustice and hurt, ceramics is a vessel through which I can find and share wonder, joy and kindness.

Bio

I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon by a mother who encouraged an appreciation for classical music, art and gardening along with a solid work ethic, generosity, logical thinking and a touch of silliness. After earning a degree studying the growth and structure of cities and anthropology, I entered the world of non-profit affordable housing and community organizing in Oakland, California. Eyes opened and feeling burnt out, I returned home and worked at my family’s tofu shop before deciding to focus on an interest in pottery sparked by a ceramics class in high school.

Nurtured through community studios and the group effort of wood fired kilns, my path broadened with the opportunity to run a small community clay studio at the Oregon coast. Stepping into a leadership role nurtured a deeper sense of responsibility to create and grow – learning to fire kilns, mix glazes, share knowledge as a teacher and beginning to exhibit and sell work. In 2019, I am excited and grateful to continue exploring my curiosity in clay through a women's firing at East Creek Anagama and residencies at Byrdcliffe and Red Lodge Clay Center.