Clay Body club comes together for the ‘clay good’

The UAA ceramics club, Clay Body, is showcasing their artwork in the Hugh McPeck Art Gallery until Feb. 2. The annual exhibition features art that Clay Body students have created over the last two semesters in their classes.

Bachelor of Fine Arts student Jessi Saiki says Clay Body is a tight knit group of people.

“I feel like that name just signifies community and like, collectivism, and coming together for the common good, the clay good,” Saiki said.

Ceramic faces hang in the Hugh McPeck Gallery in the Student Union Building, showcasing the work of UAA’s Clay Body Club. Photo credit: Christian Cielo

Saiki has three pieces on display at the gallery, including one that plays with themes of mental health and wellbeing.

“The two-sided person that I did, who share the same brain, they are a statement about like a day to day observation about mental health, and it’s just to show like that diverse range, like one side is haunted. His arms are confined,” Saiki said. “But then on the opposite side, he’s fine, calm, his arms are able to wrap around the body. I just wanted to show that contrast and let people know it’s okay to feel both, and you don’t have to feel one all the time to be who you are.”

The two-sided man also represents Saiki’s desire to pursue a master’s degree in art therapy.

“I feel like oftentimes people are ashamed of like their mental health state or they feel alone, and no, that doesn’t do any good,” Saiki said.

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Kendra Harvey, another BFA student in Clay Body, also chose to represent her own personal experiences in her art. One of her pieces is a tiger with its mouth caught up in rope and birds.

“Sometimes I have difficulty speaking to people and so I kind of feel like there’s these little birds in my mouth,” Harvey said.

The piece is a part of a larger collection Harvey is working on for her thesis show, which focuses on how humans create myths out of personal experience.

Harvey utilizes a technique that some artists view as risky, because she’ll build a solid mass and then cut her pieces in half to hollow them.

“In order to do that you have to work kind of fast and kind of loose,” Harvey said.

Jade Aldridge, president of Clay Body, has several pieces that focus on themes of femininity.

“I think it’s kind of funny to make art that makes people a little uncomfortable but also maybe initiate some sort of dialogues,” Aldridge said.

One of her pieces, entitled “Strawberry Jam,” portrays female underwear that’s stained red.

“It relates to like how society treats menstruation and how it’s considered a very taboo topic. People don’t like to talk about it and people are embarrassed about it, and yet it happens to a significant portion of the world,” Aldridge said.

The Clay Body showcase also holds a wall of heads on the east facing wall that intermediate and advanced hand building students crafted using their own faces for a mold.

In May, members of Clay Body will be going to New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and local galleries.