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Hannah Niswonger

Hannah Niswonger Ceramics

"I love the immediacy of the connection people make with images of animals. "

Hannah Niswonger builds functional pots out of white stoneware. Her tools are simple: a knife, a serrated metal rib, a sponge, a brush. All of her work is hand-built from slabs of clay. As she works the slabs, she imagines fabric. The pots are sewn together: scored along the edges, nipped and tucked together to make rounded forms from sheets of clay.

Using a Chinese calligraphy brush, the artist paints bone dry pots with under-glaze stains that act like an ink wash or watercolors on the absorbent surface of the clay. She scratches and carves into the drawings, adding and removing details. The pin tool is both pencil and eraser, adding white to the drawing. She uses wax to create motifs that are reminiscent of printed patterns.

In Niswonger's work, pattern and color anchor her animals to the pots. They serve as frames, and backgrounds, so that the animals exist in their own narrow space around the pots. Speaking from inside the bowl, horny toad peers around cheese, snakes slither beneath fruit, butterflies flutter.

Selected Exhibitions & Awards
Smithsonian Craft Show, Washington, D.C., U.S.A., National Building Museum, 2011
Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, Philadelphia, PA, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 2010
permanent collection, Schein-Joseph International Museum of Ceramic Art, Alfred, NY, U.S.A., 1998