The Anthropologist's Potter.
By Jean Cunningham
When I think of a potter, I envision the potter’s hands molding the clay while spinning on a wheel. But when I asked Cheri Lockett, who makes functional pottery, to talk about her process, she first described an essential mental process she goes through before touching any clay.
Cherie has a passion not unlike many anthropologists. She has long studied the art and cultures of many societies. She often looks at art books, exploring the designs and colors of the cultures of Asia, Africa and Europe. Then while meditating, she discovers where to go with her images: what does she see, what does she feel, what is surprising, what is the story to tell?
This mental activity leads her into the physical aspect of her pottery. The materials of pottery set some boundaries on how Cherie can interpret her art. Pottery is a process of chemistry leading to less control of the outcomes due to the natural resources used that have inconsistent characteristics.
The base material is clay, but not all clay is the same. Her chosen clay will influence her methods.
The physical steps of her pottery start with a design. She might throw a piece on a wheel at a studio. And then she embellishes it with images or surfaces. After it hardens, she applies the bisque and does the first firing in a kiln.
Cherie has used many different firing methods: pit, soda, and raku are a few. Sometimes, she’ll then glaze again followed by second firing which is the final state.
Pottery has waiting times through the process, so Cherie often has multiple pieces in different stages. Currently she is working on sculptured images on two tea mugs with jade ware inspired from Central America.
Access to the studio has been limited due to the pandemic which has also limited her pottery options for over a year. And importantly, it has limited the comradery she normally enjoys as she creates her art.
If you would like to see Cherie’s work, you can access her website, https://cherielockett.com, her Evanston Made page, or her Etsy site.
Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University.