Jen Selwyn Although I grew up in Indiana every summer I would come to Wisconsin for church camp. One image I still remember is the endless tall trees. When I moved to Wisconsin as an adult I was pleased to know, not much had changed. Living in Wisconsin is inspiring and much of my work reflects that what I see every day outside.
Working with clay, I make what I call functional pottery with a twist. Making that jump from craft to art. I started taking art classes when I was 10 years old. I loved every kind of art, so it was no surprise that I chose Art Education as my major in college. It was in college when I discovered pottery, but 9 years ago, while living in Cincinnati I really took the time to learn the craft. About 7 years ago I started selling my work, but it wasn't until I moved to Wisconsin that I really found my voice. Inspired by the beauty all around me, especially the trees, I started creating bowls adorned with leaves. Each bowl has a unique leaf that I hand cut after rolling leaves into clay. Taking time to make the leaf as realistic as possible is essential to the design and what makes them so popular.
When brain storming about the work I wanted to do for my next show I wanted to do something different, but that had the same feel. I started looking at trees. I took notice of the bark texture, viewing trees individually and as groups, close up and from afar. I noticed how the trees related to each other and to the sky. What the trees looked like against a clear sky, snowy sky and even night sky. To give the feeling of "trees" I knew the pieces would have to be tall and throwing that amount of clay was not practical for me, so I decided to hand-build the vases. I was sure to measure the kiln so I knew just how tall my "trees" could be. My first load was a disaster, with half the vases exploded. The ones that survived had some remnants from the explosion making each very unique, as they would be after a storm. From there I started experimenting with different heights and different diameters, painting clusters of trees with the glazes and underglazes, making the vases into a 3 dimensional canvas. As I finished the vases I stood them together, they created a forest. I love these vases because they can be displayed individually or as a group to create a dramatic affect.