Wanting to reconcile the relationship between wheel-thrown pots and paper collaging, Lydia Johnson began making functional pots out of double-sided, patterned clay slabs. Johnson says the pattern and color in her work “are the essence of the thing; an indispensable quality to the object’s existence and power.” The patterns she develops derive from a conglomerate of historical references, visual observation, and active imagination. Johnson describes her all-over pattern as creating an “engaging physical and visual illusion between user and object.” In addition to her distinct use of color and pattern, Johnson’s work fluctuates between an illusion of lightweight, disposable material and precious china. In 2011, Johnson received her BA from Messiah College, Grantham, Pennsylvania, and in 2016, she received her MFA from Alfred University in Alfred, New York. Lydia Johnson is currently working in her studio in Manchester, Connecticut, and will be featured in the upcoming Architectural Digest Show in New York City.
To explain her process, Lydia begins by saying that she uses clay colored with mason stains because her work is more about color than it is about the clay itself.
"All of my forms start flat. I start with a printed, patterned clay slab and use 2-dimensional templates to transform the slab into a round thing. It's like sewing clothing from fabric. Flat materials can become any type of form with darts and molds. For now, my forms are simple. I think about them like a rectangular sheet of paper or fabric that is lifted off the table and wrapped around in space."
Regarding inspiration Lydia sites her teachers, Linda Sikora and Andrea Gill, and continues, "I consume a lot of visual material online and through books. I look and digest and reference. The things I decide to bring into my studio are the things that keep popping into my mind after the fact. Recently, I’ve been looking at Japanese Kimonos, Indian Chintz fabric, high fashion runway outfits, American folk quilts, Islamic tile work and stained glass."