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Maya Hughes

Pottery as a Mix of Clay, Monotony, and Spontaneity.


NOV 28, 2022 | ISSUE 8

Artwork by Maya Hughes
Artwork by Maya Hughes
Maya Hughes in her studio

For artist and potter Maya Hughes, pottery as a medium of art is a balancing act between chaos and order. The process can be repetitive, but each creation always reveals its individuality and specialty. Hughes grounds her emotions into the physical world when she shapes clay on a pottery wheel. She spent a year exploring the Abstract Expressionism movement, loving how the process allowed her to exist in harmony with her emotions. After integrating this abstract style from her paintings to her pottery, Hughes continued to study this theme in more depth. She took pottery classes, completed a three-year apprenticeship, and attended a ceramics development course. Now, four years immersed in this world, she teaches throwing classes and creates pottery for others to enjoy in their daily lives.

sM | What do you think is still missing in how ceramics are perceived as an art?

MH ── To me, art means creative expression, which covers a huge range of activities and creations. Ceramics is perhaps more so considered a craft than a work of art. Depending on the style of the ceramics, I tend to perceive some more as a work of art and some more on the basis of their utility. When something is crafted to such a high degree, people often say something like “That is a piece of art!” Some surface decorations in ceramics are quite obviously treated as an empty canvas upon which something almost like a painting is created, and other styles focus more on creating captivating glazes. The pieces I perceive as art are those that capture my heart, that spark an emotion in me and that I can look at and know I love everything about it. I can respect that those ceramics which don't capture my attention are still works of art in their own right as someone's artistic expression. I think if people look beyond the functionality of pottery and appreciate it for its beauty as well, then they are appreciating someone's artwork.

sM | Your passion for pottery is evident in your work, but the creative process can sometimes be repetitive. How do you balance the creative and technical aspects of this medium?

MH ── Pottery certainly is a repetitive process, especially when producing works in larger quantities, however there is also a huge amount of variation that comes with it. I find that the more creative aspect comes in the design and the surface decoration. Once the design is established, I like to get into a flow of the more technical aspect, my brain goes into auto pilot and I repeat the task while listening to music or an audiobook. I find a state of peace and I enjoy what I am doing; it feels practical and even with the technical side I still feel I'm being creative, I am creating after all. What I love is how the whole process of making pottery ends up balancing itself out because it's always moving in stages. I'm never stuck just doing one thing, there is always variety; throwing, turning, attaching handles, packing kilns, wedging clays, cleaning, glazing, mixing glazes, photographing and filming work, editing and posting on social media for the business side, uploading listings, wrapping and shipping, the list goes on. Lucky for me I love each and every stage, it's the variety and rotation which keeps me on my feet.