Eli AkinsAtlanta, Georgia

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2023

Eli Akins has been creating in ceramics for ten years, learning through a couple of wheel classes at Callenwolde Arts Center in Atlanta, GA under Glenn Dair and Lora Rust, and later from mentors and renowned American bonsai pot makers Ron Lang and Sharon Edwards Russel. After becoming enamored with bonsai at an early age, and jumping in head-first as an adult, the culture around the trees led to the culture of the containers. Both the extensive collection of pots held by his bonsai teachers Rodney & Charlie Clemons at Allgood Bonsai, and the whimsical work of cousin Dedo Maranville sparked a passion to begin the journey in pottery. “Creating bonsai pots is about finding a voice within a certain set of parameters and creating art for other artists. Ratio and proportion are king”.

I am a maker of bonsai containers and other functional stoneware. After being swept into bonsai culture, I also found the culture of the pots in which they grow. The makers, history, forms and glazes captivated me and I began working with clay to make containers for my trees. A few years and a few classes later I was rather obsessed! I worked in a local pottery studio for 6 years before deciding to create my own space to, er, create… I have embraced a western philosophy to bonsai pot making, steering away from perfection achieved in the ever disciplined world of Japanese culture, art and way of life. Though I admire and respect the Japanese work and aesthetic, I embrace the anomalies, and nuances in the clay and try to allow the end result to show vitality and life and avoid the constraints of perfection. After all, only my creator is perfect. Imperfections, not to be confused with mistakes, are a reflection of me as an imperfect being.