Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Artist Statement & Bio

Artist Statement:
It is my Grandmother’s ladylike traditions that influence my current body of work. She had a penchant for beautiful objects and set an elegant beautiful table. On special occasions, she would dress her table with matching service pieces, china and stemware as the family gathered. When they were not being used, these treasured items were stacked neatly behind the glass doors of her formal china cabinet.
I have created tableware that is interchangeable, fun and engages the user in the creative process. Each piece functions on it’s own, but also works within a variety of settings. Randomly placed or thoughtfully stacked, these pieces provide practical solutions for today’s modern lifestyles. Equally at home at the kitchen counter or at a finely appointed dining table, I invite the users to create with my service wear their own signature place setting, service set or still life, worthy of Grandma’s table or glass cabinets.


Chrys is an accomplished potter, ceramic artist and educator. In 2009 she was awarded the "Regina Brown Undergraduate Student Fellowship from NCECA (National Council on Education of the Ceramic Arts). She presented the council with a thesis on a topic near and dear to her heart: What does the future hold for the functional ceramic artist? Titled "Sorry there is no App for that,” this article is currently pending publication in The Studio Potter, “Sustenance”, Volume 39, Number 1, Winter/Spring 2010 – 2011.

The last several years Chrys has exhibited, sold, and won awards for her ceramic artwork at several prominent galleries all over the Detroit and Flint Michigan metro areas. This year her work was chosen to be exhibited in two national shows: “The Strictly Functional Pottery National”, in East Petersburg, PA, and “Last Call” show in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Chrys is a teacher, student, mother of two daughters: (one still at home), grandmother, wife and full time ceramic artist, not necessarily in that order. She teaches "Beginning Ceramics" and "Intermediate Ceramics" at the Anton Art Center in Mount Clemens, MI, and "Clay as Canvas" at the Flint Institute of Arts in Flint, MI., an advanced ceramics class at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center, continuing education ceramic classes at the College for Creative Studies and a ceramic survey class to degree-seeking students at Wayne County Community College District on the east side of Detroit.

Chrys earned a Bachelors of Arts, with High Honors, in June 2010 from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Now What????

As many of you may know, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from College for Creative Studies one week ago today. Now begins the huge task of making a living making pots.
My senior thesis show was a big success. I sold lots of pieces, and I am really proud to say that a prominent ceramic collector purchased a couple of my pieces. I’m told this means I’m on my way!
But to where? It’s only been a week and I’m already feeling lost. It’s as if I was dropped from the ceramic studio into this small house in the middle of nowhere without all the tools necessary to really get my business off the ground. Sure my professors prepared me by providing me with all the intellectual and technical skills required to make my ceramic art. However, with student loans set to come due I find my self at a loss as to how to acquire the mechanical tools necessary to produce.
Till now I have worked in a space typically used for a pool table in the middle of the lower level of my modest home. The floor is littered with plastic mats typically used under desk chairs. The mats do a marginal job of protecting the carpet from wet clay and glazes. When necessary I have sprayed my glazes outdoors using a portable compressor and old wooden stump with a banding wheel perched on top. I share my “home studio space” with my teen daughter’s computer, TV, couch, and my husband’s bench press, weights and piano. My “home studio space” has served me well as a part time clay artist. During my time at CCS I had a space that worked wonderfully as an addition to my small home studio space. I freely admit that as a student, I was spoiled with a great school studio equipped with all I could ever need: spray booth, salt and reduction kilns – everything. Not to mention a wonderfully supportive mentor and teacher. (Geez - its’ only been a week and I’m already homesick for that studio.) Of course I will still be teaching once a week at CCS and I will be able to get some things fired there. However, the student work will come first, as it should. As a professional, I may not have the luxury of waiting until I can “fit” into a firing. So, the question is what to do next? All of my glazes are formulated for a salt or reduction atmosphere, which means I have to purchase the equipment to build a gas kiln. The gas kiln needs a platform so I also have to have a concrete slab installed. We will need a bigger pig (propane tank). (Reminds me of "If You Give A Mouse a Cookie"). Where will I put the kiln? I will need a separate studio as being in full production means that I will expose my household and its inhabitants to clay dust and ceramic chemicals. It is not safe for me to continue to create in my home without a properly ventilated space. The studio should be adjacent to the kiln but where? How will I finance such an endeavor?

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chrys Bonnay-Lewis: My Pottery - its useful...

Chrys Bonnay-Lewis: My Pottery - its useful...

My Pottery - its useful...

Musing about my pots - because I use them. Currently, in preparation for my graduation and anticipated future full time pot-making, I’ve had to organize and clean things out. I’ve come across pots that I made only a few years back, some just a year ago. Many went directly to the shard pile but several have ended up in my kitchen. These pots have become a regular part of my daily routine. I use them to drink my milk at the end of day when taking my vitamins, having cereal for breakfast, or a bowl of fruit and/or ice cream in the evening. By using my pots on a daily basis I continue to learn from them and consequently I have become a more skilled maker of everyday objects. Recently, my daughter broke a covered bowl I made and we used for steaming veggies in the microwave. The first family dinner with fresh veggies after the demise of the covered bowl brought blank faces as the family tried to figure out how to cook the veggies without it (it’s on my list to make another). There was nothing special about this covered bowl, a simple exercise a few years back to make a covered bowl that morphed into an object my family could not function without. One tumbler in particular has become my favorite for ice water or soda. It was thrown loosely, of dark stoneware and glazed in a traditional shino, not at all my style. However, when I use this tumbler I am reminded of how experimenting with different clay bodies and styles has informed my current choices and made me a better teacher. I’m also reminded of how much my work needs loosening up, how I need to capture that loose moment that I seized creating the shino tumbler, but next time in porcelain. Very silly - but I think of this tumbler as a metaphor of what will be the future for my work and me. Also informative are the amount of times and the number of uses I find for my pots. Take, for instance, the “Belly Button Serving Tray” that recently sold on my Etsy page. In the past months, I have used that tray for serving hot hors d'oeuvres at Thanksgiving, Cake at Christmas, and cooking and serving nachos to my teenage daughter’s friends during a party she hosted for her BFF. I also use my ewers, pitchers, and coffee cups. Even my dog and cats have there own hand made bowls. We potters talk a lot about how our functional ware becomes treasured family artifacts. What I am finding amusing is….they really do.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Working Woman...

Working Artist, mother, wife, teacher, studio tech, assistant, counselor, manager, cook, maid, personal shopper, event coordinator…

Finally - a blog post! It wasn’t easy, but I found my way back… Followers, please accept my apologies, but life put up a brick wall that required my attention. For that matter, I lost the blog’s direction - like a blind sailor with a broken compass in North Dakota on a cloudy night…… Initially, I had planned to muse over my daily observations, as it was clear that the world just shouldn’t have to wait any longer for my opinions on everything. But then I thought, that perhaps the world would understand, and forgive me if instead I simply used the blog to communicate, and commiserate with other women of the “superMom” persuasion. You know the drill….mother, wife, student, teacher mentor, artist….. and then on the weekends…. Anyway, you get my drift. It’s a fantastic opportunity – to have it all – but it has some costs. I thought that maybe, in the 15 or 20 seconds a day other women may have to stop and bitch a little, or share a triumph, or discuss some creative solution or new artistic endeavor, they might tune into this blog and find some similar situations or observations, and feel a little more understood. So from time to time, I will be using this forurm to share the epiphanies, doubts, joys and, yes, observations of myself and other women who have or are trying to have it all!!!!

Before, during and since the Holidays, I have been consumed with my final return to school, and have been preparing for graduation in the spring. HEY 2010 – first in my family to earn a bachelors degree (I am soooo excited)! Yeah ME! Anyway, the posted picture is an illustration of me at my glamorous best, working at home, and having a discussion with my daughter, and planning dinner, and, well…….