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Christine Caswell


Christine is an artist whose personal practice is primarily working in clay. She was a part of the original RWS Portland St. location for a year before attending graduate school and returned to RWS in 2011. In 2013 she worked with owner Kate Anker and former Clay Center co-manager Meg Walsh to establish the Clay Center at RWS (then called "The Bayside Clay Center"). She continues to manage the clay studio. Christine is interested in the relationship between insides and outsides, the interior and exterior of form, which appears in her work in different ways. Prior to forming C & M Ceramics with her former business partner, she was designing surface patterns using negative space. Instead of drawing a circle, she drew the negative space around it with lines, which became the Mariner Sunburst Salad Plate design that stayed a part of the C & M line. “Even in surface decoration I’m interested in the negative spaces in patterns and things overlapping and kind of veiling each other.” Her graduate thesis work is another good example of this interior and exterior exploration. She spent two years designing work that became a show called “Within”. Each piece was a form that questioned what was inside and what was outside by connecting the interior and exterior of the form through folds and holes that would continue and wrap around. “Years before that I had been making vessels with holes popped through them and gold leaf on the insides. From the outside you see peaks of that special inside.” These explorations are a reflection of Christine’s introverted nature and the idea of how her outward expression does not tell you very much about her. Her current work is a line of vases with cage-like forms on top that are both functional and beautiful. She thinks a lot about architecture while she’s making these. She has to think about structure–arches and supports–which has made her more interested in looking at beams in buildings and the aesthetics that also function because if you cut the clay in the wrong spot, it will fall apart. The ideas for her current work have evolved for a long time. The first version was a flower brick, a form that dates back to the eighteenth century. “I was already interested in patterns and negative space and seeing inside things. Instead of just cutting holes I wanted the piece to be interesting when the vase was empty.” She returned to the idea after graduate school and put it down again when C & M production started, and it was the first thing she picked up when she stopped working production to return to teaching. Then Covid started shutting down communal spaces. Without access to the equipment in the clay studio, the series was impossible for her to work on. She didn’t know what to do that summer so she signed up for a residency at Watershed to be around other creative people.

After that summer Christine started teaching pottery again in a hybrid classroom. This was a way for her to ease back into clay. It wasn’t until a little over a year later that she started making her own body of work again. “There was a whole year that I didn’t make anything. I’m sure I was making something else like my garden. I was definitely not making pottery though, but I was still teaching so I was making pottery with kids.” She made a couple of her architectural vases in the classroom and showed them to Maine Craft Portland who asked for a dozen, which was great motivation to continue the project. “I’m really appreciative of that opportunity because it really helped me think about what I was doing.” Christine plans to add cups and bowls to the series in a way that doesn’t feel like she’s back in production. We can’t wait to see them come to fruition!

Christine is currently looking for opportunities and thinking about where she wants her work to be. She is a MCA Guild member and her work will be available at their show on MDI, as well as perhaps a couple of other shows. Contact Christine via email, christinecaswell@mac.com.



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