Open Pit Gold Mine Vessel

Image courtesy of Washington State Historical Society
Raku-fired clay, gold leaf and pigment
15.25" x 15.5" x 5"

Open Pit Gold Mine Vessel came about from my journey to Aotearoa (New Zealand) for an Indigenous Artists' Gathering. During my flight, looking at the land below, I saw distinctive lines cut into the earth from open pit mine operations -- this was the same in the U.S. and the islands we flew over. Something Indigenous people have in common all over the world is the struggle to protect our ecosystems from harmful resource extraction that damage land and people. During the gathering, I slab-built, glazed and raku-fired this vessel. On the trip home to Washington, it broke into several pieces. Undeterred, I used re-purposed gold to highlight the cracks and mimic gold veins emerging from the rock. During this process, I learned about the Japanese method, kintsugi, the art of repairing pottery and the belief that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken.

This picture shows the piece being pulled, red-hot, from the shopping cart kiln after it has reached temperature and is about to be placed into a receptacle with wood shavings.
Open Pit Gold Mine Vessel pulled from the kiln by Manos Nathan and Eddie Daughton, picture taken by Hera Johns

The piece won "Best of Show" at the 2015 In the Spirit Exhibition at the Washington State History Museum and will be on display there until August 30th. It received some interest on this blog,
and was reviewed by the Arts and Culture editor in an article on the exhibition in the Tacoma News Tribune. The article stated, "Best in show, though, deservedly goes to Erin Genia (Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate). Her “Open Pit Gold Mine Vessel” is a slow spiral of gray, raku-fired clay that descends like a hell-bent path down to an oozing black pool. Gold leaf drips like blood over the cracked edges — a Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery (kintsugi) that Genia discovered when her initial sculpture, inspired by open-cut mines, was damaged. The effect is precarious, gaping; a profound comment on the ecological and spiritual damage of such mines."

Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article29873938.html#storylink=cpy

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