In the course of a History of Ceramics class, I developed a moderate obsession with Greek Attic pottery. I was enamoured with its narrative potential and the high esteem to which it is held all these thousands of years later. I found it remarkable that we are able to infer so much about the culture and values of this ancient civilization simply by looking at the way figures are depicted on the surface of a vessel. I pondered what a hypothetical archaeologist of the future might conclude about my culture if they found the ceramic objects we’re making now and what they would miss. I decided that the piece of my society that I found the least artfully represented was friendship. I tasked myself with changing that. Among Friends is my love letter to the future on behalf of the platonic relationships that anchor us in the present.
I designed these vessels based on my contemporary interpretation of two Greek Attic forms: the amphora and the lekythos. Amphorae, large-bellied vessels with two handles, were used in everyday life for storage of perishable goods. I created forms in this tradition upon which to illustrate scenes of everyday friendship. Lekythoi, slender vessels with a single handle, were used in funerary rites. The scenes depicted on my contemporary lekythoi are those of friendships that have perished.
Each of the illustrations on these vessels was drawn by hand based on photographs from my coming-of-age. Every vessel tells a story about the friendships that have shaped me into who I am today by showing the moments that were splendidly mundane. The slow, meticulous, laborious process of creating each unique vessel was an exercise in remembering stories that have now blurred and cultivating gratitude for these relationships, living and dead.
I believe that the nature of ceramics as an archival material requires us to consider deeply what we are creating and the life it will live after the makers have gone. My mission in the present is for these ceramic works to create space for meaningful conversations and reflection over the role that friendship plays in our lives. My hope for the future is that any audience which may stumble upon these vessels will see that in this moment, to this artist, friendship meant everything.
- Landon Mackenzie Graduation Award for Visual Arts