Leanne McClurg CambricChicago, Illinois

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Raised in Anchorage, Alaska, Leanne received a B.F.A. in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the University of Minnesota in 1997. In 2002 she received her M.F.A. at Louisiana State University. Leanne has exhibited all over the U.S. as well as being an artist-in-residence at the Archie Bray Foundation and Watershed. She was the Emerging Artist 2007 for NCECA, (National Council on Education for the Ceramics Arts). She is surrounded by artists as her mother, step-father and husband all hold B.F.A.’s painting. She has two dogs, a cat, and a baby named Zen Leo.

My artworks are vehicles for communication to convey a certain truth about my experiences as human so that the user and I can find connection with each other through a functional vessel. I begin with my body and my perception; it is the genesis for all that I make. My pots are made from an autobiographical stance about longing and survival. I use narrative imagery as a way to express contrasting emotions about resilience and grief, appetite and fulfillment. I use animals in my work for their metaphorical strength. Animals also help to illustrate complex ideas about persistence, longing, and the familiar. It is within that struggle of accepting things as they are that I begin to understand my own humanity and find connection again with an animal’s self sufficiency and instinct.

For the bulk of my art process, I handbuild functional pots out of porcelain. The pots are created through a combination of techniques that rely heavily on pinching the clay into form. I want the fingerprints to be present as to really call out to the handmade quality of the work. Porcelain, while a fickle material, heightens the sense of touch and provides a dense surface for vivid color. I etch the drawings into my pots as a tattoo artist etches permanently into the skin. I layer glazes in painterly patterns, relying on the glass to ooze and melt over the etchings. The result is a collage of hard and soft lines that blur and sharpen over the functional form. Process and narrative imagery combine in forms that I hope will be used to nourish and provide beauty in the home. When the works are displayed in the gallery I play with installation so that an environment is created for the work to be experienced.

As an artist, I want to make my human experience sharable. My work represents an extension of my physical being. When someone uses a cup I’ve created, I want them to think of my lip touching theirs as they drink. I draw inspiration from how my full body interacts with other objects…other bodies. The presence of my fingers pinching the work is proof of my body as maker. Every breath, like every fingerprint in clay, is a record of my existence that I want to communicate.

The combination of allegorical images and pattern making that are imbedded into the heavily pinched forms give me a platform to communicate. The vessels I make are the vehicles for appetite. They can deliver satisfaction to the body and at the same time they can be the objects of desire. Through the use of a bowl or a cup I’ve made we can have a truthful conversation about how, like the ceramic pot, we have all been both fragile and resilient. The functional object allows me subversive access into the most intimate surroundings and engages the
viewer on both a visual and tactile level. It is in this arena of the domestic that I find a stage to share my human struggles and longings through my artwork.