We’ve heard from a number of men in the Firing Log podcast series — we’re overdue for a woman’s perspective. Davie Reneau of Kentucky provides just that perspective, or at least that of a woman who loves hard physical work and the imprint it leaves on ceramic forms. Download the episode directly or through iTunes (mp3, 53:42, 49.2 mb).
Note: The iTunes link requires iTunes to be installed on your computer. If you do not have iTunes, use the “direct” link — it is probably most convenient to right click the link, choose “save as” from the context menu, and then listen to the file in your preferred player after it has downloaded.
In her Artist’s Statement, Davie explains how the farmland of Kentucky is imbued with a female character — it is a softly curving, undulating environment that has influenced her ceramic forms. When looking at the forms she creates though, it is clear that a term such as “womanly” does not infer only a life of ease. Quite the contrary, Davie’s youthful experiences with farm labor and her life as a wood-firing potter have instilled in her a respect for hard work, something which shows through in the pieces she creates.
Davie Reneau’s Photogallery.
For example, this teapot’s full and curvaceous form is accented with patterns evoking patchwork fields at sunset, the evening colors imparted by wood-flames. It is without doubt, a comforting shape bringing to mind pastoral images of farm life — perhaps resting in a comfortable chair as evening hues fire the sky. I think though, that there is more to it and that nostalgia is but half the picture. The subtle part, that the end of the day comes with worn out muscles and tired bones, is still there to be sensed. This teapot is soft on casual inspection, but underneath is to be discovered a fundamental strength supporting the comfortable surface.
In her other works, Davie finds ways to evoke a sense of generosity with a subcurrent of a harder existence, complete with the cuts, scrapes, bruises and burns familiar only to those who really know what work means. She doesn’t club one over the head though — her efforts appear effortless, leaving just a trace left for those who will look deeper. Davie revels in hard work, and I doubt she would have it any other way. Difficult as it may be to toil under the hot sun or in front of a blazing firemouth, when the job is done there is a sense of accomplishment that cannot otherwise be obtained, and evening is all the more comfortable for the hardships of the day.