Thursday, August 27, 2009

Welcome to America Creates Chrys Bonnay-Lewis

Welcome to America Creates Chrys Bonnay-Lewis

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Okay - so if you don't know already I have been accepted to American Creates online Gallery. I've posted all the classes I'm teaching this fall on their site and have provided a link to the on-line gallery here on the blog. Check them out - tons of great art on the site as well as many artist and collector resources.
I'll be out of town for a couple of days so explore American Creates while I'm gone and let me know what you think.

Coming Soon: Fall Gallery Openings I will be in this fall and reviews of some I'm not

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Timothy Adam Designs

Timothy Adam Designs

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The "Death" of Cooking and the Functional Artist

I am a recipient of the 2009 NCECA (National Counsel On the Education of Ceramic Art) Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship. I was awarded this fellowship to aid in my research to write a thesis on the future of functional pottery. Many of you know that I am a clay artist and work mostly with utilitarian forms. I am also a senior and ceramic major at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit Michigan and a community education teacher. Below are excerpts taken from my essay to NCECA requesting their support for my fellowship project.

“…The question of the destiny of wheel thrown forms is far from academic. My fascination with ceramics was born on a potter’s wheel almost a decade ago. Having raised my family, I returned to school after these many years to increase my knowledge and skill as a potter, and to educate myself fully as a ceramist. I am now a year from graduating with a BFA in ceramics, and yet, after all of my explorations into the other areas of ceramics, I still find that wheel throwing offers me a more meaningful language with which to engage my ideas.
My ultimate goal, aside from practicing as an artist, is to be an educator and pass along my knowledge, experience and love of the craft. In that capacity, I am approached constantly by students that share my devotion to wheel throwing, but are concerned about their future and place in the art world should they decide to pursue this aspect of ceramic art? I feel it is incumbent upon me to have some sort of answer…”

I have spent the summer interviewing, emailing, and researching ceramic artists and academics, gallery owners, potters, studio artists, crafts persons, etc. for my thesis essay: “The Future of Function”. But yesterday, while reading “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch”, by MICHAEL POLLAN Published: July 29, 2009 in The New York Times, I was alerted to a new possibility and concern.

According to Pollan, people are not cooking anymore, at least not in the “traditional sense”. Pollan implies that American cooking consists of popping an instant food of some kind into the microwave and then plopping onto the couch to watch a cooking show! Of course Pollan touches on many topics relating to American culture and how it has changed since WWII. Among other things he suggests that advertisers for big food companies have altered our definition of cooking as well as our taste buds. He further states that the loss of “scratch cooking” is the beginning of the demise of our humanity.

Now, here I am doing research on whether a potter who makes functional pieces can make a living at it, and Pollan suggests that people have stopped cooking – which means presumably that they are also not using cooking utensils, like, say, handmade pottery.

I’m wondering is Mr. Pollan right? Do you cook? What is cooking to you? Are cooking and “scratch cooking” the same? Are we at the beginning of the loss of humanity for all of our not cooking?

And important to me and makers of functional pottery:

Do you spend money on handmade pottery to celebrate food?

Do you have a favorite cup, bowl, and baking dish? Is it handmade? Is it a good design? Is it sentimental? Why is it your favorite?

Please take a moment to comment on or answer one (or all) of these questions. Your input is important to what I hope will be valuable information to functional artists and designers everywhere.
Furthermore, if you are so inclined, I am open to suggestions, comments as well as referrals on who else might have interesting insight into this topic.
I look forward to any comments!!!
Thanks so much,
Chrys Bonnay-Lewis

Monday, August 17, 2009

The up side to the bad economy - It’s not all wildflowers...

This recession is causing everyone to reassess their priorities and make an effort to become more self sufficient, and that isn’t a bad thing. In fact, I spent the morning talking to a neighbor who, until a few days ago, owned and operated her own small business, drove huge gas guzzling cars and didn’t go any where with out her Bluetooth and other status symbols. Unfortunately, she was forced to file for bankruptcy in an effort to escape the overwhelming expenses of her faltering small business. Now, I don’t want to suggest that it was good that my neighbor’s small business went belly-up. But, up until this moment my neighbor had blamed the lazy, unproductive, undesirable unions, liberals, and greedy welfare mothers for the entire nation’s ills. Today she was humbled by the new knowledge that even good people who work hard, go to church, and don’t lean on the government for “bailouts” can be forced into bankruptcy, and even become unemployed.

She is a product of the, “more and bigger mentality” that has been passed on for several generations among Americans. Many have defined their self worth by this motto for years - my neighbor among them. The good side of the current faltering economy is that it will force many to reconsider the “keeping up with the Joneses will make me happier” idea and “the welfare roles are filled with lazy unproductive Americans” mentalities. I am not suggesting that my neighbor’s bad fortune was good for her or the community. However, I am saying that up until now her “good Christian” values have not been tested. Perhaps now that she is no longer the “elite business owner,” she will come to grips with basic human values.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Up-Side to Bad Economy

Each week I will explore a positive change brought on by today’s faltering economy.
Welcome to my 3rd installment: Why we need Wildflowers

Native Wildflowers have many benefits and they should be grown and aloud to spread to ensure future health and well being of future generations. By one estimate, 25 percent of Michigan's plants will be extinct by 2050, as the result of loss of habitat due to development and invasion by aggressive non-native plants. This estimate does not include the possible effects of global warming.

Butterfly Weed or Orange Milkweed Asclepias tuberosa L. Protected Wildflower - PLEASE DO

Flowering plants actually reduce global warming because they produce breathable oxygen by utilizing the carbon dioxide created by plants and animals as they respire. Allowing these roadside meadows to thrive would improve the environment. Once established, native plants do not need pesticides, fertilizers, or watering. Not only is this good for the environment, it saves time and money. A native landscape does not need to be mowed like a conventional lawn. This reduces the demand for non-renewable resources and improves the water and air quality. The periodic burning (or mowing when burning is not practical) required for maintenance of a prairie landscape mimics the natural prairie cycle and is much better for the environment. Landscaping with native wildflowers and grasses helps return the area to a healthy ecosystem. Diverse varieties of birds, butterflies and animals, are attracted to the native plants, thus enhancing the biodiversity of the area. The beauty of native wildflowers and grasses creates a sense of place, both at home and work. The native plants increase our connection to nature, help educate our neighbors, and provide a beautiful, peaceful place to relax.

Michigan Lily Lilium superbum L.

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Up-side to the bad economy.

Welcome to my second installment of my new series.
Each week I will explore a positive change brought on by today’s faltering economy.

Meadows born from economizing and green policies - not mowing. #2

Throughout Michigan, the state and local governments have tightened their budgets by not mowing along roadsides and at some state and local parks. The result is a lovely, every changing landscape of radiant wildflowers and grasses, bringing a natural rainbow of color to our lives. The following are some that are currently blooming in mid and lower Michigan.

More Obscure Wildflowers -

Wild Bergamot Monarda fistulosa L. A member of the mint family Wild Bergamot is found in meadows. The flower has single clusters of tubular pink to lilac colored individual flowers that make a flower heat at the tip of the stem. Each flower has a tuft of long hair at its tip. The leaves are in pairs, and are short-stalked, longer than broad, and widest below the midpoint, smooth to slightly hairy; margins are toothed. Stems are also smooth to softly hairy shaped square in a cross section. (4-sided).

Racemed Milkwort Polygala polygama, Walt. Found in dry woods, meadows. Flowers are pink to rose-purple with loose spikes at the ends of the stems. Each flower has a central tube and two spreading wings. The plant has several simple leaves that alternate and are longer then wide. One root carries many smooth steams that are usually upright but the outer stems may recline.

Spotted Knapweed
or Spotted Star Thistle – Centaurea maculosa, Lam.
Found in meadows and along roadsides in the heat of summer till fall. About 1-4 ft. tall the blossoms are shaggy and resemble Bachelor’s Button of the cultivated garden to which it is related. Color is usually pink but may range from white to purple. Flowers are at the tips of the stems. The Central part of the blossom consists of many individual, tubular flowers; the under part of the flower head is overlapping spiny, black-tipped bracts. The stems leaves are few, deeply cut into narrow segments, and are rough to the touch and grayish green in color.

Cow ParsnipHeracleum Lanatum Michx. Mistakenly referred to as Queen Anne’s Lace. Cow Parsnip can be found along roadsides and meadows in the heat of summer. Flowers are flat-topped clusters of white flowers forming very large blossoms up to 8 in. across. Petals are deeply notched at the tip, and form larger clusters on the outer edges of the flower than those on the inside. The leaves are large commonly up to 12-18 in across, and are compound with 3 coarsely toothed leaflets. The leaves are hairy on the underside with stems that are ridged, woolly and hollow.

Please feel free to comment and post pictures of your wildflowers and any in sites you may have to the Up-side to the down economy.

Next installment: Why wildflowers are important to our Eco-system and more positive observations of the "Up-side to the bad economy."