I am Sarah Chenoweth Davis, a potter living and working in Portland, Oregon. I imagine this blog to be a document of my evolution as an artist, including ideas good and bad, inspirational influences, and my artistic biography. I’ll post photos and write-ups on my process and firings, and I’ve been thinking about putting together some how-tos on things like pulling handles and trimming bowls. Who knows what else!
Getting to know me…
I grew up in southwest Ohio, but my family also spent five years in Omaha, Nebraska. I’m very much a mid-western girl. After my freshman year at the College of Wooster, my family moved to the paradise of the Pacific Northwest, specifically Hood River, Oregon. It was love at first sight for me, and after 14 years I truly feel like an Oregonian. Portland has become, far and away, my favorite city with its laid back attitude, love of food and beer, and dedication to social and environmental responsibility.
My artistic life began at a very young age. I remember completing drawing exercises when I was maybe eight years old from Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain, along with my mother. My parents were always supportive of my artistic tendencies, but a childhood passion for wolves led me to major in biology at the College of Wooster. However, I couldn’t stay away from the art department, especially the ceramics studio. After college I found myself living in Atlanta, Georgia where I took classes and volunteered at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. It was there that I realized I could be a potter. I had been contemplating graduate school in conservation biology, but when my dad offered to turn their carport into a studio, I sold all of my pots yard sale style, packed up my Bronco and made my way back to Hood River.
I’ve tried a great many things since then, in my quest to find my voice. I was initially attracted to clay because of the visceral experience of working with mud, along with the seemingly limitless possibilities of the medium. As I worked, secluded in the woods of the foothills of Mt. Hood, I refined my technique but I lacked focus. The word on the street was that Mt. Hood Community College was the place to make pots in the state, and that Stephen Mickey, head of the department, was the man. So true! I was introduced to salt/soda firing, wood firing and a great many masterful potters. Stephen’s mentor, Warren Mackenzie, was an apprentice of Bernard Leach, so much of what I do is shaped by the philosophies of Leach and his colleague, Shoji Hamada.
I began taking classes (ceramics, design and art history) at Mt. Hood in 2005. Since then my role has evolved from student to student leader to mentor/tutor, and most recently to technician. I always had at least one part-time job while making pots, but as of this September my professional life revolves completely around clay…THIS IS IT! I am living the dream! On top of that my work took an evolutionary leap this year. I made a decision, about one year ago exactly, to make only what makes me happy, to not worry about what the average customer wants to buy. This decision has allowed my true self to come through in my work, and I am more energized and curious than ever. This personal growth has also resulted in professional growth, and my work can now be seen in four galleries in Oregon.
The pot on this blog is a precursor to my current bodies of work. This is the form that most satisfies me to both make and contemplate. There are many more pots to come.