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Exploring Ritual and Vice Through Pottery

Coffee containers, sugar containers and flasks – for women – are part of the Habitual Rituals series.

Looking to find containers for coffee, tea and sugar? Lorna Maeden has a pot for that.

Exploring the ritualistic connotations of the average person's daily routine — in particular sugar, liquor, and coffee — the potter has created a series of usable conversation starters for your next dinner party.

The themed collection, Habitual Rituals, has been on display since September 2, but made its formal debut earlier this month at an opening reception hosted by Clay Art Center on September 11th.

Meaden gave a short gallery talk to the many potential buyers and art lovers who came out to celebrate the unveiling of the solo exhibition, telling them she's had this project in mind since she finished graduate school.

"I was thinking about our culture and what we do for our daily rituals," she said. "This is a show I've wanted to do for a long time."

In addition to long-time admirers, Meaden's won over new fans with the exhibit.

"[Meaden] is very well known in the field," said program director, Leigh Taylor Mickelson.

That evening, several f pieces were sold to eager collectors hoping to get first dibs, while Meaden was presented with a merit award for her achievements in the art world.

While the pieces can be drastically different in their design and size, impeccable craftsmanship is a common denominator. Whether the piece is an irregular teapot — or a cake stand that resembles an upside-down crown — the meticulous attention to detail deserves a second glance.

These tongue-in-cheek constructions, which were all created within the past six months, were inspired by the things people do to ease the stress of the weekly grind.

"Potters talk about the ritual of their work and talk about things like drinking coffee," Meaden said. "It teaches you to appreciate your time more."

As creations like the "Wine Ewer" and "Sugar Pourer" indicate, not all of our quick fixes for satisfaction are healthy.

"The things that make you feel good are also kind of bad for you," said Meaden.

By implementing items like "Whiskey Bucket" and shot glasses, "there is sort of a joke about [the theme of the collection], but it's also a nod to our routines," she added.

This idea can be seen through Meaden's "purse flasks." Since regular pocket-flasks have more of a male connotation in society, this one-of-a kind piece was created as a carry-on specifically for women's handbags.

It was also important to the artist that the bits she made for this collection were not the kind of stuffy clay formations that end up sitting on a shelf collecting dust for years.

"This is the kind of functional work that can be used everyday," she said. "People have this perception that pottery is 'crafty.' "

The good-natured slam on some of the kinds of things we do from morning until evening created something a bit different from previous shows at Clay Art Center.

"This body of work really helps you think about your daily habits," said Mickelson. "It's a fun show," finished Mickelson.

Habitual Rituals is on display at Clay Art Center until Saturday, September 25.

Keep on top of the local arts scene by following Port Chester Patch on Twitter: http://twitter.com/PChesterPatch

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