Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Studio Visit: Mary Anne Davis

Mary Anne Davis, who makes the vivid, bespoke dishes and dinnerware we carry at Greenjeans, is someone I'm very glad to have met. She is a tremendously energetic woman, as vivid as her glazes, whose mind is always going a mile a minute. She is incredibly devoted to community, sustainability, art, and peace. And she inspires me every time I talk with her or talk about her work.

What first attracted Jae and I to her work were her little confetti-dot juice cups. (We have a display of her confetti-dot pieces in the window of the shop now -- stop by and take a look!) Their slightly irregular shapes lend an air of comfort and warmth to the cool white porcelain and the riot of colorful dots which might otherwise appear too jumpy. Mary Anne is inspired by the Japanese aethetic of wabi-sabi, or beauty in imperfection, and embraces these irregularities as an integral part of the beauty and individuality of a piece. The somewhat "wobbly" look of all her pieces -- cups, plates, bowls, pitchers, vases -- animates them and it seems to appeal to shoppers who can hardly help but pick up the bright, shiny, tactile objects.

Tables come to life when set with Mary Anne's dishes. Jae and I once had dinner at her home after a studio visit, and she set her table with an assortment of her pieces, allowing the patterns and colors to spontaneously mix and match with soft, floral cloth napkins and heavy silverware. The dishes themselves were exciting to look at, invigorating even, and they lent an air of fun, openness, and dynamism to the meal. They were even a pleasure to wash in the sink afterwards, their slightly undulating shapes helping me to remain mindful, turning a mundane task into a kind of meditation.

Mary Anne's artwork extends beyond her beautiful porcelain dishes into the realms of painting, sculpture, and performance. Her work is exhibited in art galleries, most recently at Mark McDonald in Hudson, NY, and we have exhibited a few studio pieces at Greenjeans including two sweatered vases from her Women of Power series and currently a large vase.

One of my favorite of Mary Anne's artworks is her "Mala Meal Project," which she performed at the Resurgence Earth & Religion Conference in upstate NY in June 2005. (Scroll down the page to see her piece.) For this piece she made 108 clay rice bowls in different colors as well as a large central bowl to hold the rice. The bowls are a metaphor for the beads in a mala, which is a prayer necklace or bracelet. Participants sit in a circle with their bowls and benedictions and prayers from diverse religious traditions are offered, followed by a simple communal meal. I think this project is poetic and must be a lovely, memorable connective experience for participants.

After years of having her work available through Neiman Marcus and various other retailers, we are honored to be Mary Anne's sole retail outlet now. We have juice cups, cake plates, seed and pod vases, and serving platters, and mugs. Table settings are made to order in any combination of 12 colors and multiple shapes. These are dishes you won't want to stash away in a cupboard -- they are sculpture you can eat on and beg to be used and displayed. You can learn more about Mary Anne and her work by visiting her recently-launched blog where she writes about art, commerce, her studio/think tank Davistudio in Chatham, NY, and other happenings and ideas:

We have a great deal of synergy, Mary Anne and I, and hope to do all kinds of things together in the future including collaborating on writings that explore the connections among the handmade, the environment, the economy, and the artist. Stay tuned...

1 comment:

CarolGert said...

Hi Amy and Jae,
I love your blog that MAD sent me to. Loved the discription of waking to NYC snow 13 Feb. the dinner at Davistudio in upstate NY, (I've experienced it in much the same way) and so much of your musings. Thankyou, CFD