The Everson Museum of Art is excited to announce a year-long residency with social practice artists Tia Kramer and Amanda Leigh Evans, who will create and present a collaborative, socially engaged public project that engages diverse partnering communities in Central New York. Their residency explores the subject of timekeeping, a contemporary concept of measurement that is experienced physically, mentally, and emotionally by different communities. Evans and Kramer will compare and contrast the ephemerality of performance with the permanence of ceramic objecthood, culminating in works that embody the experience of existing within deep time. Building upon their cumulative decades of work with young people and migrant communities on socially engaged projects, Kramer and Evans’ residency will culminate in the creation of a multidisciplinary, collaborative artwork that invites partnering communities to share lived experiences on the concept of time.
Amanda Leigh Evans
Devices to Measure Deep Time: The Rock Cycle in One Hour, 2023
Midfire stoneware with stains, underglaze, glaze, rocks, and clock hardware
The Everson Museum of Art is proud to be among the notable organizations to receive an Artist Employment Program (AEP) grant from Creatives Rebuild New York (CRNY). With this funding, the Everson has engaged the Haudenosaunee artist Natasha Smoke Santiago for a two-year residency that began in July 2022. Since then, Santiago has taught various Haudenosaunee pottery workshops and curated learning and engagement initiatives such as the porcupine quill demonstration during the 2022 Festival of Trees & Lights led by Michael Galban, the historic site manager of Ganondagan State Historic Site and the curator of the Seneca Art & Culture Center.
Haudenosaunee potter and Everson artist-in-residence Natasha Smoke Santiago–and six of her pots–attended (National Council on the Education of Ceramic Arts) NCECA’s 57th annual conference in Cincinnati, Ohio, an event that coordinates presenters, networking opportunities, exhibitions and provides a professional community for ceramic artists. As one of two demonstrating artists, Smoke Santiago discussed traditional Haudenosaunee pottery methods with NCECA attendees and shared hands-on techniques she uses to create her work. “I love traveling and meeting other artists to learn about their artworks and backgrounds because everybody’s roots tie into their artwork somehow,” Smoke Santiago said. “And, that’s the fun part about artwork, it creates that connection, that dialogue somehow.”
Smoke Santiago traveled to NCECA with three traditional Iroquoian-style and three recently created and fired pots.
Matrilineal Lineage and Future Generations
Smoke Santiago said she’s determined to create a traditional Haudenosaunee-style pot as large-scale as possible. Her recently fired pot, Matriarchal, that measures about two feet tall with a width from her fingertips to elbow, is a result of Smoke Santiago’s ambition, but with a contemporary feel. Matriarchal was slowly smoked in an all-day process that Smoke Santiago first tested on some of her smaller pots. When it came time to smoke Matriarchal, she built a brick and kiln-furniture enclosure to keep oxygen out and calm the flame intensity. After the process was completed, Smoke Santiago washed the smoldered pot with water.
The four-sided micaceous clay pot includes hyper-detailed effigies—an infant, a child, a mother, and a grandmother—as a representation of matrilineal lineage and future generations. These four women, with hairstyles and facial features that hint at their age and relationship to one another, are harmonized with a modern, hand-painted strawberry plant design. Strawberries are the leader of berries and the first to ripen in the spring season, Smoke Santiago said. They also represent women’s medicine, and the berry’s vines, female bloodlines. Along with the red and green paint which brightens the pot’s strawberry pattern, Smoke Santiago colored each individual strand of effigies’ hair and lined the seed and triangle pattern with a copper paint, symbolic of the seed-keeping tradition and mounds thrown in gardens to plant the three sisters (corn, beans, and squash).
Laughter is the Best Medicine
Smoke Santiago decorated Auntie Pot, Laughter is the best medicine with an effigy—an auntie that emerges from the rim of the pot with her head tilted back, mouth agape and dimples displayed as if she was caught in a moment of joyous laughter. “If you look at archeology, we used to make a lot of effigies, animals or people, on our pots,” Smoke Santiago said. “So, I derived that but made [the effigy’s face] more realistic.” The effigy’s braided hair falls into the inside of the pot and she’s embellished with a beaded necklace which Smoke Santiago fastened to the pot. Aunties, who may be respected figures in the community or actual blood-related aunts, are the matriarchs who carry forward tradition. Smoke Santiago’s pot combines the tradition of respecting your elders and the Native belief that laughter is the best medicine for the soul and body. “There’s a little bit of humor in calling it an auntie-pot, but then also the serious part of it is ‘laughter is good medicine,”’ Smoke Santiago said.
by Natalie Rieth, Museum Communications Intern