Amanda Barr is an artist, educator, and writer originally from the Midwest. She holds both a BA and MA in Spanish; during her graduate work she discovered the catharsis of working with clay. From there she practiced, researched, studied, and experimented to develop her line of studio pottery. After years of selling and showing her functional work, Barr decided to advance her professional career; first with a post-baccalaureate at CU Boulder, then moving on to Seattle for a long term residency at Pottery Northwest. She’ll soon be traveling to Vallauris France for a month to do research on her newest body of work, a study of European porcelain vessels juxtaposed with earthenware forms to serve as both a historical reference and a reflection on modern socioeconomic, political, and social issues. Barr’s work often references her personal history with physical illness and disability, abuse, and PTSD, and advocates for those silenced.
In 2014 she opened her pop-culture pun and fun line of work, Print & Clay.
“There is no life that does not contribute to history.” Dorothy West
The history of ceramics and the history of civilization are intertwined. Art and religion, politics and culture, gastronomy and commerce are all embedded in every shard, vessel, and sculpture, which can communicate deep and complicated histories. In 14th century Europe, tin-glazed majolica earthenware represented an economical and political backlash against expensive imported porcelain wares from China. Referencing this rivalry by using disparate clay bodies in my own work allows me to connect past to present and comment on current issues of economic globalization, wealth disparity, class division, and racism. Furthering the conversation, by utilizing certain forms, such as the iconic 1950’s cocktail glass (“greet him with a cocktail”) and decorative patterns, I can remark upon feminism, gender stereotypes, and domestic violence. In these ways and more I tell stories, past and present, my own and others’.
I often rely upon my past as a researcher, writer, and linguist. The language may be different, but the final intent remains the same: to communicate. Within my work I utilize various clay bodies, the expressive nature of color, inlaid linework, printmaking techniques, glazes, and lusters to translate ideas to surface. I use my own personal narrative as a starting point for creation, driving the domestic nature of the objects and imagery, with the idea that my story will resonate with others, perhaps some who are unable to tell their own. Viewers engage with one part of a piece, whether it be form, texture, imagery, perhaps even beauty, and are drawn into the deeper conversation. Every dialogue begins somewhere, every change has a catalyst- even a cup.