April ElNaggar - Artist's Statement

My passion for clay and being a potter begins with the unlimited possibilities of a lump of clay and the transformation into a finished piece.My work is vessel based; platters and bowls some functional in nature, while others are vessels used as metaphors to convey the joys and struggles I have experienced in my walk of faith as a Christian. 

It is important that the viewer can feel and understand the movement and fluidity of the piece’s surface.  The potter’s hands are essential in making this effect possible.  The hands compress the imperfections and air bubbles from the piece in order to form a strong foundation on which the vessel can stand. The grand finale is completed when the hands manipulate, decorate, and finish the surface.  What would the pot be without the potter’s hands?  I see this idea as a metaphor in my own life and faith.  

The majority of pieces in this exhibit are made of stoneware clay that is thrown on the potter’s wheel and while at a semi dry state, covered with white porcelain slip. This slip is then textured using tools and hands to carve through the surface and into the clay body creating contrasting surfaces.  In this way the work is framed around the expressive imagery I am trying to relay to the viewer.  This technical process is called sgraffito. 

The images I use come from my personal visual file of preferential images, consisting of forms and shapes that represent openness, honesty and vulnerability.  I use the radial symmetry of the lily, an open free flowing flower, because it represents growth and openness.  This is a metaphor for the worship and openness in my Christian faith.  I also use circles for their depiction of wholeness and having no end. 

The bowls are adorned with handles made of reeds to express the grace of an arch, which complete the form. I have a great appreciation for pottery that is beautiful as well as functional in use.  Although function is important, it does not hold precedence over the form and beauty of the piece.

After the pieces have been fired I apply earth pigments which impart color (oxides), into the sgraffito design and textures to accentuate the details of the surface. Next I apply clear or celadon glazes which range in color from varying shades of green to pale blue in color.  The pieces are then placed in a high fire reduction kiln where the clay and glazes melt, bond with the piece, and create a glassy, smooth surface.

It is my hope that the viewer of these pots can appreciate the function and feel the expressions that are revealed in my work. Hopefully this will draw the viewer into the work to reflect, understand, confront, or experience emotions that I hope to convey through my work in clay.