Some time ago two things occurred which substantially diverted the path of my work. The first and perhaps most consequential, was to reject the idea of pottery as profile/image and devote myself to expanding the interior life of the work- be this toward function or simply a fuller, luxurious, captured volume. Secondly, I was looking for another shaping premise to base the vessels upon, rather than it serving as a frame for painted imagery. My ongoing love of letterform then came into play- the Cantilever is derived through countless variations of the cursive letter “Y.” That its formal origins are not so noticeable is just fine with me- I feel I’m following a very long tradition of pottery’s formal morphology from the natural and synthetic sources… This particular work is thrown + cut + sewn from one cylinder, wood/soda fired with flashing slips.
Tanketappin The River Project: Art + Nature at the Slocum’s River Reserve (SRR) is a triennial site specific sculpture competition sponsored by the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust. Acknowledging an area once fished & farmed by native people before settlers arrived, I proposed a project that imagines the meeting of the Wampanoag tribe with European colonists in 1664, the year of Dartmouth’s founding. Differing notions of land ownership defined this relationship, at times violently, as cultural identities were expressed in relation to property. Embedded in the ground in red glaze brick is the Algonquian word, “tanketappin,” in cursive letters, which means, “where live you?” In this piece, the legal concepts of signature and spoken word agreement are combined via a greeting. The result- a 50 ft. long steel & ceramic text piece was installed on a hillside at SRR for the duration of a year (June 2015-2016.)
James Lawton Biography2017
500 Teapots Vo. 2 Cover