Esther Ann Smith grew up the youngest of four children in central Minnesota. Born into a family that respected hard work, creativity, and making things by hand, these values quickly became instilled in her, and naturally carry over into her ceramic work. She first experienced clay while visiting a German pottery studio in her teens, where she was enthralled by the malleability and the cool feeling of clay in her hands. The transformation of raw, soft earth into an object of one’s imagination both intrigued and amazed her. She began to take classes in high school, quickly learning the joys and frustrations of working in clay, and was captured by the process.
While Esther pursued studies in Psychology at the University of Minnesota Duluth, her interest in clay was always present and grew with its absence from her life. She took classes any chance she had during her free time to feed her obsession with clay. While living in Chicago, she came across the Lincoln Square Pottery Studio Learning Center in 2007, where she was able to hone her skills for 3 continuous years. During this time, she focused on soft, bulbous, wheel-thrown forms. In 2011, Esther relocated to Santa Fe, NM, where she continues to refine her techniques and evolve her forms. She revels in creating work that invites touch and engagement, bringing joy with each use.
I believe, through using handmade objects, the user undoubtedly enhances her quality of life. He may tend to drink or eat slower, becoming more present to the moment. There may be more appreciation of the object being used, the process it took to create it, the food and drink consumed, and even one’s surroundings. The act of nourishing one’s body can transform into something that serves more purposes than the primary physical need.
The act of creating is necessary for my survival in this world. It ranks among food, sleep, touch, and love; without it, I would fail to thrive. Thus, I make work which excites me; it makes me feel truly alive.
Working with clay is a natural, instinctive process. Its soft, workable nature lures me in; it invites me to push, to pull, to form. When throwing pieces on the potter’s wheel, I hope to expose within them the soft quality inherent in the clay. This is done by attending to the interior space, the curves that create the profile, and finishing the lip of the pot with care. My pots are rooted in the tradition of functional pottery, which encourages touch, use, and engagement.
Through making beautiful objects for daily use I hope to create potential for transformation in the user, arousing joyful awakening. At the same time, I strive to satisfy my innate need to create and bring forth new life, in ceramic form.
Esther Ann Smith, 2014