Patricia Fay is a Professor of Art in Ceramics and Assistant Director of the Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida, USA. Her recent publication Creole Clay: Heritage Ceramics in the Contemporary Caribbean documents twenty-five years of research with potters in the region. When not teaching or traveling Fay’s studio work ranges from wood-fired functional pots based on historical forms to mixed media installations documenting hurricane survival.
LECTURE TITLE: In the Potters’ Hands: Tracing Cultural Heritage in the Contemporary Caribbean
Ceramic production methods provide a unique mechanism for tracing displaced culture to its point of origin. The specificity of clay preparation and vessel construction strategies, and the obvious persistence of these techniques over time, offers a remarkably accurate means of identifying ceramic heritage. The coilbuilding methods used by the women potters of Choiseul, Saint Lucia are indistinguishable from those documented amongst the Bafia people of Cameroon. In Trinidad, male potters descended from South Asian laborers maintain inherited wheel and kiln technologies for the extensive production of Hindu ritual vessels. The two-person wheels, lead glazes and wood-fired kilns of Barbados are identical to those used by English country potters, as taught to African slaves on the island by white indentured potters as early as the mid-seventeenth century. Through images, interviews and video this lecture will explore the astonishing global legacies preserved in the hands of contemporary Caribbean potters.
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