Anna Graef – Red Lodge Clay Center

Anna GraefState College, Pennsylvania

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident (ASPN) 2021

Anna grew up in central Pennsylvania. As a kid, she spent most of her time in surrounding woodlands hiking and camping. Now, she continues to spend most of her free time outdoors. Anna’s favorite color is orange, from her red hair to the fruit, to mason stain 6028. Sometimes Anna likes to spell her name with 22 Ns. Currently Anna is pursuing a bfa in ceramics at Penn State.

Anna is interested in function, utility, absurdity, practicality, efficiency, humor. She uses ceramic and other media in her attempts to subvert expectations of function, and to inspire childlike wonder.

Often, the measure for function is linked to utility.  I am simultaneously attached to this idea of utility, or the object that performs a task. At the same time I want to push back against this object performativity. Here emerges my drive to disrupt efficiency and subvert expectations of function.

I am interested in the full spectrum of function, from efficient utilitarian function to absurd dysfunction, and everything in between. I use my work to subvert expectations of function. I’ve grown up camping and backpacking, venturing into the woods with only what food and materials we carry in our packs. Backpacking requires stripping the things I carry down to essentials, or at least justifying each object I carry. As a practical person, I have no trouble eliminating seemingly frivolous items from my packing list. On the other hand, carrying an extra pound or two (a lot in backpacking terms) to sleep on a feather pillow under the stars is one of the most luxurious things I can think of, and I appreciate that frivolity. This balance between function, beauty, practicality, and absurdity is central to my curiosities and my work.

These seemingly frivolous extras, though not objectively necessary to survive a camping trip, add value. What value is added? Why am I willing to almost double the weight of my backpack in order to sleep with a pillow? What do I gain by eliminating efficiency in favor of other value? This drives me in attempting to expand notions of function and utility via my work.