by Katharine Eksuzian
Umami is an over-all harmonious state of perfection. It is where ingredients come together forming a pleasingly consistent whole. It is not just a taste, it is a state of mind. Deliciousness.
I long to have a sense of umami in my work of pottery. Each piece is unique, complex, satisfying and a pleasure to use.
My current work is based on the idea of shinrin-yoku. This is a Japanese term that means “taking in the forest atmosphere” or “forest bathing.” There is evidence that this type of forest therapy improves both physical and mental health. Through the creation of nature-inspired ceramic work, I hope to elicit a sense of shinrin-yoku and impart a pleasantness onto the beholder. When direct and prolonged contact with nature is not accessible, it is my hope that a special woodland art piece will evoke a similar calm spirit.
I strongly believe in hand sculpting each piece to fully reflect the realistic, beautiful imperfections that my main subjects are based upon. The placement of a sculpture on its corresponding vessel is also a well-thought-out task. With great effort and proficiency, my goal is to create innately organic, spontaneous pieces that portray balance and harmony. These are qualities that cannot be achieved through shortcuts such as slip casting or by being molded.
By recalling shinrin-yoku experiences as I create, I impart a bit of myself and the woods into each piece. It is a great pleasure to see when a carefully planned and crafted piece takes on a life of its own. In atmospheric firing, the end results are always different with each piece. The act of changing the climate within the kiln, along with the infusion of ash, assists in a unique, natural aesthetic. When my work reaches the hands of its owner/user, I hope it bestows an insight into the goodness of life