Megan Jean Messer
As an artist and optimist, I believe in creating opportunities through my pieces where people from diverse backgrounds can share their experiences and beliefs to help further a conversation to a place of open-mindedness and understanding. Many of my ideologies line up with the philosophies of Mingei and Bauhaus. Mingei, to paraphrase, is art for everyone, focusing on beautiful objects made for everyday use. Bauhaus’s goal was to unite all of the arts, combining architecture, sculpture, and painting into a single creative expression.
Mingei is not just a moment in history but an ongoing movement that spans across generations of ceramics potters. The National Council for the Education of the Ceramics Arts (NCECA) is home once a year to many ceramics artists who hold the same ideas. Such as Randy Johnson, whose idea it was to have the exhibition, The Persistence of Mingei: Influence through Four Generations of Ceramic Artists, during NCECA in 2019 to showcase how much this philosophy has grown and spread into hundreds of potters minds since Warren MacKenzie brought it to Minnesota. Many ceramics residencies work towards these ideas as well, such as the Archie Bray Foundation which has deep ties with the Mingei movement since it was visited by first generation Mingei artists Shoji Hamada, Bernard Leach, Soetsu Yanagi, and second generation Peter Voulkos. The Archie Bray Foundation provides a creative environment for anyone who is serious about the ceramic’s art and about building up its community.
My work creates an intimate conversation between my audience while having a one-on-one relationship between themselves and the individual pieces. The installation I’ve created is elegant and approachable in form, pottery is finished with soft, semi-transparent glaze, and innocuously blends into people’s lives while still creating moments of reflection and peace.
Tea has always been a symbol of hospitality and community. It’s warmth seeping through a cup into the palm of the user and as it travels through your body and into your core has a calming and grounding effect. The purpose of creating teapot sets, teacups paired with saucers, and treat trays is due to the nature of what they hold and how people feel while holding them. The delicate nature of a teacup and saucer being balanced in your hands brings the user awareness of their actions and the actions of those around them. The treat tray rests in the middle of the table with the capacity to contain a wide variety of delicious sweets. Sweets seem to hold the ability to chase away some of the negative thoughts we hold onto about ourselves and others, at least for a little while. Soft moments like this can be a perfect time to reflect and gain clarity on important topics in one’s life.
Setting a table in the middle of a gallery will have a large presence that catches the eye and will manage to hold a familiar presence as the audience experiences the space, begging for interaction and closer inspection. I created these piece out of steel and applewood, both materials are extremely sturdy and reliable, eliminating any hesitation to approach. My circular table neutralizes any sense of power or importance that a linear table suggests with the presumption of there being a ‘head’ of the table. Everyone who gathers around the installation has equal importance, and their voice will be heard and validated the same as their neighbor.