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slip-decorated stoneware


Dimensions: 5 x 5 feet (overall)

Artist Statement

I’ve spent a good majority of my life going out of my way to touch things. I am captivated by unusual surfaces and forms, and often find myself getting lost in the sensation of feeling an object- an obsession which led to my fondness of clay. With clay, my hands are my tools, and I am able to both govern and succumb to the form. This idea of “control and submission” ushered me into my most recent creative project, Deep Dive, in which I explore memory and its intangibility. Being the daughter of a Japanese woman and an American man, my experience with cultural identity- particularly regarding my Japanese side- has been unique. I was born in Japan but raised in America by my mom who, for most of my youth, was a single mother of three. Because of this, a lot of my childhood knowledge of my Japanese heritage was gathered from my mother’s stories and memories of her life in Japan, and from the few mementos she brought with her when she moved to the states. As a little girl I was always fascinated her small, exotic treasures- valuable and precious possessions meant only for viewing and not touching. However, traveling to Japan as an adult, I was surprised to find how ordinary her “treasures” were. That’s when I realized the items’ worth was never important to her, it was the memories and narratives attached to them. I soon became obsessed with the idea of transforming anecdote into artifact.

I use clay because it’s a medium that begs to be touched. My sweeping, curvilinear forms mimic the freedom and individuality of the calligraphy brushstroke. Each relief piece displays a subject linked to one of my mother’s memories. Pigmented clay-slip is my paint, and I apply it in thin layers across the surface, creating areas of translucency which call attention to the tendency of memories to fade over time. I draw inspiration from the ukiyo-e painter and printmaker, Katsushika Hokusai, and often find myself outlining my subject-matter with thick, black outlines to “complete” my paintings. I apply opalescent, ceramic lusters to highlight the ethereal quality of memory, and gold luster to add preciousness to traditionally unremarkable things such as: ginger root, daikon, tuna, curry, et cetera. I add reef-like protrusions, recognizing that Japan is an island with a culture rooted in its strong relationship with the ocean. Lastly, I incorporate small, white stones, to simulate a Japanese rock garden (karesansui). Pairing traditional culture and memory, I create an environment in which introspection and tranquility are welcomed and encouraged.


© Christina Victoria Dowdy, 2019.

Exhibit Images


ceramics, pottery, slip-decoration, stoneware, culture, Japan