BFA University of Alaska Fairbanks
MFA Wichita State University
Teresa Shannon is our newest addition to the Nicholls family.
I’m interested in the way objects become an integral part of a person’s life, developing histories of their own, containing memories, emotions and embodying ritual and play.
I grew up in a large family and we did not eat off hand-made pottery. We did not even use mass-produced ceramics; we ate all our meals off plastic plates because my mom did not want to be cleaning up broken dishes every day. For holidays and special dinners, however, we pulled out the “good” dishes. Eating off these special plates emphasized the importance of those events. These dishes are still in my mother’s cupboard, and at every dinner at her house, when those dishes come out, I am reminded of past family dinners. This is the role I wish for my pots to fulfill. I want them to become part of a family ritual, to be pulled from a cupboard years from now with a lifetime of special dinners behind them.
My functional pottery is hand-built with soft slabs of clay or thrown on the potter’s wheel and gently altered. The finished pots suggest the look of the wet, fresh clay; they show the way it can stretch and nestle into your hands. Matte glazes with muted colors on the exterior of the forms emphasize this softness. Interiors are glazed with glossier glazes, suggesting a wet, fruit-like, core. I am intrigued by the subtle atmospheric effect created where two or more glazes meet and melt together, furthering the gentle, welcoming quality of the work
My earlier pots and sculpture explored concepts of beauty, alternative functionality and the humorous potential of form. Recently, I have been drawn to other potter’s work that features playful animal imagery, digging through the dishwasher just for that mug with the cow on it. I realized that these animals were bringing something special to the work that form itself could not.
In beginning to integrate animal images to my pots, I found so much joy emerging from both making and using them. My first pots with animals were only for special events – but soon animals took over. Drawn to the small creatures living in the woods around my house in Fairbanks, Alaska, my pots recall the simple joy of watching birds at the feeder- or catching a fox running across the road.
I began to consider other less expected animals that bring joy and wonder and dinosaurs played that role in my childhood. My older brother at the age of four announced he was going to be a paleontologist. This was the early 1970s and dinosaur toys were hard to come by, so along with clothes and dolls my mother designed and sewed many stuffed dinosaurs. They helped to establish a shared language and family story as they were passed down to each younger sibling and then to nieces and nephews. Dinosaurs were “cool” in our family before dinosaurs were “cool” anywhere else.
I am excited by the way the dinosaurs and other animals become characters accompanying the user through morning coffee or family dinner, bringing light-hearted delight and companionship.