2017 – Trace – MFA Thesis Show

The work in these two photo galleries is from my MFA thesis exhibition Trace, which was on exhibit at LSU’s Glassell Gallery from April 25-29, 2017.

Installation View
Work © Naomi Clement, 2017, Images by Kevin Duffy

Studio Shots
Work © Naomi Clement, 2017, Images by Kevin Duffy


The work in this exhibition speaks both to my desire to belong and to connect to my beginnings, yet still trace my own path forward; the pots I make are about making connections and missing connections.

Many years ago, I came across the letters that my grandparents wrote to each other while they were courting. Reading these letters, I was able to understand and feel close to two people no longer present in my life in the way that I had always known them. The details of these letters revealed so much: that my grandfather’s big, rugged hands had written that beautiful and sensitive script was astounding to me, and my grandmother’s patience and quiet, practical love and thoughtfulness are evident on each page. The power of these letters exists in what is not explicitly stated: the pauses between the words; the relationship that lives between the conversations; or the handwriting itself, which becomes a direct connection to the writer’s hands and thoughts. These letters are a record of two lonely people reaching out and connecting, across great distances and great odds, and building a life and family together. In my own search for belonging and desire for a family of my own, these letters remind me that this search is worthwhile—lonely and weary hearts do find homes.

I have been using elements of these letters and other family text in my decorative process. Digitally scanning the letters, I then pick out certain words which I enlarge and subsequently laser cut in newsprint. Words are chosen sometimes for content (words such as hope, you, alone, miss, and if), and sometimes I select them purely based on what is formally interesting to me. The text elements become a central visual part of the final object, and create a moment of pause and clarity—tiny spaces that hopefully allow the viewer or the user time to stop, contemplate the object at hand, and through it feel connected to the present, if only for a breath of time.

Making functional pots is all about noticing: noticing the material, noticing the process, and noticing the user. It is about noticing the moments and creating moments to notice. However, function is also about thoughtfulness, it is about thinking ahead, about caring, and about noticing others. There is a weight to this: seeing and acknowledging are powerful acts.

My pots ask to be noticed and examined—I want them to convey a sense of a life lived, and a life still to be lived. A snapshot of the journey, each pot is a tether that connects me to me, and me to you, a memory frozen in mud-made-stone for years to come.