Get to know Emily Pawlica, founder of Studio Pawlica and Phosphene Shop Manager. Emily is a ceramicist whose work we've long admired, and a treasured member of our team - we are absolutely thrilled to host her and her work in December for First Friday's and for a weekend-long pop up, right on time for the gifting season. Join us December 3rd from 5 - 8PM for First Friday's and Saturday & Sunday during business hours for a pop up with Emily.
How did you first get your start in the ceramics space?
I began my journey in the ceramics space my third year in college. I took my first ceramics class that fall, and fell in love. Taking my first ceramics class was the decision that led to and solidified my choice to become a studio art major, and also gave me a sense of peace and comfort, knowing this would be an integral part of my life. Prior to taking this class, I hadn’t touched clay, but I remember having this feeling there would be a connection. I began by learning about different clay bodies and traditional processes of building, and the following year took my first wheel throwing class. It’s been the art form I’ve grown the closest to.
Ceramics continues to teach me a lot about myself. It shows me how to be patient and mindful, how to show up everyday and practice, and the beauty behind impermanence. Clay finds new ways to humble me each time I practice, it’s an honest and lovely relationship in that way.
How has your work and practice evolved over the years?
My work and practice has evolved over time in a lot of ways. I think my style has narrowed, I know what I like to make and what I don’t— at least at this point in time. I think it’s difficult being an artist and constantly being inspired by a variety of incredible makers while developing your own style and voice. At least this has proved difficult for me— I’m someone who wants to try everything. But what I’m learning about myself, through art, is that I can appreciate and love all different styles, while also having those be completely different than my own. One of my favorite things is collecting a piece from another artist, that appears so different from the work I make, and is unlike anything I would make on my own. I’m also learning to accept that my style will continue to grow and evolve as I grow and change.
I love the relationship between form and function within ceramics, more specifically wheel-throwing. I am able to make art, while also creating a tactile object that someone can interact and form a connection with. The energy from the artist who created the piece is transferred to the work, and then passed on to it’s new home- I believe this creates a bond between the artist, the work, and the collector.
What is the most fulfilling part of creating, and the overall ceramics process?
The most fulfilling part of the process for me, is creating. I love getting my hands dirty and turning mud and clay from the earth into tactile and permanent work. While I find fulfillment and happiness in sending a finished piece off to it’s new home, the true joy for me lies in all the small countless steps that many people don’t see. Moving and manipulating the clay, throwing it on the wheel, feeling it become one with itself and with me— it’s like a slow dance. Not every project ends with a finished piece, many I destroy and recycle in the process. The meditative moments spent creating give more than enough satisfaction by keeping me mindful and living in the present.
After taking a year away from the studio, you attended an Anagama workshop at Peters Valley School of Craft. We’d love to hear more about your experience there, but also hear about the time you took away from creating (during the pandemic). What did you learn about yourself?
The Anagama workshop at Peters Valley School of Craft was a dream. I spent 4 days in a secluded area of a national forest making pots with a group of incredible artists and humans. It was the experience that gave me the push I needed to go back to my local public studio. I didn’t realize until that retreat just how much I missed and was craving a community of makers and being in the studio for hours on end.
I took over a year off from the studio after graduating my undergrad during the height of the pandemic. My daily routine changed from being in the studio nearly every day to not at all. In retrospect, I am thankful I took time away to put more energy and time into slowing down and taking care of myself in ways I hadn’t before. There are many moments, to be transparent, that I find myself wishing I hadn’t taken such a long hiatus. I have to remind myself that it’s okay to take a step back, and it’s okay to not be ready sometimes. What I learned most during this time, I think, was how to slow down, and how to start caring for my mind.
What are you most excited to explore or learn in the future?
I am most excited to explore workshops and retreats. That to me, is a dream “vacation” or solo trip. I would also love to be an artist in residence for a week or month in a national forest or different country. The more I learn about this craft and art form, the more it feels like I’ve only just touched the surface of knowledge. I want to know more about how clay comes out of the earth and gets processed, more about natural and traditional firing techniques, and how different cultures and people around the world are working with clay. A dream for the far out future would be to delve into the world of art therapy. It feels as though that is something I’m already practicing on an internal and personal level, and if I could share this with others it would bring even more joy and meaning to my life.
The female figure is something you explore in the shapes of your work, across mediums. What draws you to explore the physical form?
My initial fascination with the female figure originates from my love and appreciation for the divine feminine and for women. If I can make work that expresses love and acceptance for the female being, then I’m doing what I want to do. Exploring this throughout my work and various mediums has also been a way for me to process my personal experience and internal dialogue as a woman, and create a sense of comfortability within my body and mind. I aim to cultivate awareness and acceptance of the female body in all it’s beautiful and natural forms and stages of life.
Could you share with us any specific works of art, literature, music, etc that have been inspiring to you recently?
Just a few artists that have been inspiring me recently; Clementine Keith Roach (a long time favorite of mine), vintage curator and creator of Boheme, Sara Shabacon, artist Gab Bois, ceramicist Rachel Saunders, late artists Ana Mendieta and Hannah Wilke. Additionally- simple moments like trying out a new recipe, a weekend road trip to the mountains, sharing a good meal with loved ones, and all of the incredible women in my life who inspire me everyday.
Do you practice anything to keep yourself grounded and at peace? If so, which one speaks to you the most? The one you always go back to, to slow down and live intentionally?
Spending time alone and time with the earth keeps me the most grounded and at peace. Almost every evening once the sun’s gone down I go on a walk. There is a comfort in the solitude, slowness, and darkness of the evening, that I like to take in before ending each day. I also enjoy spending time journaling and sketching, practicing yoga and restorative exercises, and also baking. I find that each of these things forces me to slow down and stay present, while also allowing me to feel at one with myself. As simple or mundane it may sound, walking is the one that speaks to me the most. It has remained the most healthy and helpful practice for my mind and body.
What does an ideal day of rest and recharging for you include?
An ideal day of rest and recharge for me would be sleeping in, waking up and going to a yoga class, and walking to go grab coffee and a pastry and enjoying them slowly while absorbing the atmosphere around me. Spending quality time alone and also with those close to me throughout the day, thrifting, sitting on a rock by the river if the weather provides, working on a small passion project like knitting a hat or a throw blanket. Ending the day by staying up late and baking a midnight pie, a common occurrence in my family home, while a favorite film plays in the background.
What is something that you’re proud of, personally and/or professionally?
I am proud that, no matter how long it took me, I am now learning and practicing ways to take care of myself and to feel at peace. I am becoming more honest with myself and my needs and my dreams, and likewise becoming more comfortable with the truth that the only person I am responsible for making happy and taking care of, is myself. I must first do this in order to find harmony in all other areas of my life. I’m also someone who’s personal and professional life seem to always intertwine; it’s important to me that I am passionate about all areas of my life that I put an extensive amount of effort, energy, and time and care into. So I am proud that I am able to say that I love and care about what I do.