Clay Date

Sure, pottery was sexy before that scene in Ghost (where overalls-wearing Demi Moore worked at her wheel while a specter of Patrick Swayze cuddled up to her). But chances are that getting frisky while surrounded by buckets of slip or, handmade, voluptuous sculptures probably weren't what American Folk Art & Framing had in mind when naming its latest exhibit Sexy Pottery.

"Pottery that appeals to our hearts": The new exhibit at American Folk Art & Framing.

"Where texture, color and skill meld with fire, creating pottery that appeals to our heart," explains press for the show, which opens April 2. "We know the pleasure our favorite cup provides when it warms our hands as we drink, or when we see a vessel provide the perfect support for an otherwise wacky wildflower arrangement."

That, and clay has long served as metaphor for human form: "Earth, my likeness/Though you look so impassive, ample and spheric there/ I now suspect that is not all/I now suspect there is something fierce in you eligible to burst forth," wrote Walt Whitman. And, of course, in Genesis, Adam was formed "of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life."

While the works of the ceramists represented by American Folk Art & Framing might not quite so epic, they do share a rustic elegance, a focus on strong form and roots in age-old techniques.

Potter Daniel Johnston of the Seagrove community digs his own clay and uses salt glaze on his functional pieces. Vale-based Kim Ellington says, in his bio, that he's fortunate to live where pre-industrial methods — like traditional stoneware made with ash glaze — "survived the 20th century intact and continue to influence and define my community." Michael Kline of Bakersville keeps the blog Sawdust & Dirt, in which he writes about the practical and philosophical aspects of his craft. 

"The routine of pottery making is grounding to me," says Asheville potter Liz Sparks, whose work features earth tones, rounded shapes and stylized flora and fauna. Kyle Carpenter, also based in Asheville, produced salt-fired ceramics in warm, sunny hues with delicately rendered grasses and grains, and birds so lifelike they could take flight.

Michael Hunt and Naomi Dalglish are probably the two potters in this exhibit who've come closest to a sexy pottery Ghost moment: The two share Bandana Pottery in Bakersville and newly arrived daughter Miriam. While the couple describes their pottery as "utilitarian" (and recently spent time in Korea studying traditional large Ongii storage jars), their pots beg to be held and are decorated with finger strokes through the glaze.

The takeaway here? Sexy pottery might mean something different than, say, sexy painting. Or sexy photography. But it's still worth checking out this show with a special someone.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall is the arts section editor at Mountain Xpress. She's lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. Alli is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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