Ellen Jewett effortlessly blends animals with elements from their environments, creating ceramic pieces that often balance unexpected species together in a singular piece. Each work is highly detailed—flowers, leaves, and vines wrapping themselves around animals from coyotes to chameleons.
By focusing on negative spaces within the animals’ bodies, Jewett strips away the weight of her objects, a quality that is usually inextricably linked to the medium of sculpture. She constructs her ceramic pieces using an additive technique, beginning with the innermost parts of the sculptures and layering outward. As periphery components of the animals’ surroundings are added to the piece, a narrative begins to form. These additional pieces Jewett describes as being beautiful, grotesque, or fantastical and add to the object’s exploration of domestication, death, growth, visibility, and wildness.
Jewett’s materials are just as important as her process—only using clay, paints, finishes, and glazes that are free from toxic properties. In addition to being toxic free, she also attempts to source locally and naturally whenever possible.
Each detail, down to the finest filigree, is free-modeled by hand. Within each piece precision is balanced by chaos. The overarching aesthetic knocks on the door of realism, yet the hand of the artist is never intentionally erased; brush strokes and fingerprints abound. Even the narratives themselves harbor a degree of anarchy as they are rarely formally structured. Rather, I seek to achieve flow states while working to create a fluid progression of unconscious imagery.