I am a descendant of both European settlers and Native ancestry in Wisconsin’s Lake Superior region. Most of our indigenous family culture has been lost, in part due to the forced assimilation that affected my great, great grandmother at the Hayward Indian School. I honor and acknowledge the contemporary and ancestral lands of the native communities in this region called home by the Anishinaabeg/Ojibwe/Chippewa and, as recognized by UMD’s land acknowledgement “before them the Dakota and Northern Cheyenne people, and other Native peoples from time immemorial.”
Ceramic materials around the North and South Shore of
FLUX, Harlow Purchase Award from Bemidji State University
I gather this iron-rich clay at a beloved beach near the mouth of the Iron River in Wisconsin where big clay cliffs drop into the sandy shoreline of Lake Superior.
Near where I live in Duluth, MN the beaches are mostly large stone cliffs and tiny basalt pebbles which I wedge into a stoneware/porcelain clay body.
Screening and Testing
Ultimately, my favorite result came from screening the clay through 30 mesh, mixing about 10% black mason stain into the slurry and firing the clay to cone 1 without glaze. I use ammonite fossils often in my work and for this series I wanted that 420 million year old (!) ancient yet eternal spiraling growth pattern to inspire the forms.
I love the basalt pebbles wedged or stuck into a commercial stoneware/porcelain clay body and fired to cone 10 - they react interestingly with glazes, often melting and leaving an iridescent brown/black trail.
Thanks again to the Minnesota State Arts Board for supporting this exploration. It has been especially exciting to share with my students, both at Spirit of the Lake Community School and Teen Open Studios at the Duluth Art Institute.
By harvesting materials I hoped to provide for them a beautiful reminder of our relationship to natural spaces and how our surroundings uniquely shape the things we create, plus have some fun romping around by the water!
Ashley Hise is a fiscal year 2022 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.