Ceramic Artists Explore Varying Aspects of Human Experience

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Ceramic Artists Explore Varying Aspects of Human Experience

Please meet the four remaining inaugural Vessels + Sticks artists. It is with gratitude that I acknowledge all of the artists for being part of a vision to provide a new lens on the field of contemporary ceramics. Again, to reiterate my sentiment communicated in earlier emails, I am truly inspired by all of the V+S artists, their artwork, as well as the paths that they have navigated to arrive at their current practices.

These four artists have been working in fine art and craft throughout their careers and their practices are focused on the exploration of human experience and relationships. In an effort to uncover the truths of human nature, the work of these artists can help us reset or refocus our gaze and understanding of our own experiences.


Emma Smith

Hamilton, Canada

Creative multi-hyphenate Emma Smith is a ceramic artist, writer, photographer, creative thinker, not to mention aerialist. Emma’s multi faceted career allows her to observe her environment from many different perspectives, which is translated and captured in her ceramic work.

Emma’s observations include the noting of everyday experiences, impressions and memories and she celebrates these in clay, a material that also tracks her process and the marks of her making, as does her wood firing. Each moment of the everyday has significance and is worthy of capture. As the artist so eloquently describes, “…the small intricacies that make up the world around me. They have made me too.”

Meet Emma Smith


Eden Bender

Toronto, Canada

Eden’s multidisciplinary art practice reflects a deep connection to the various communities in which the artist participates. Honest observations about the people that live in and interact in those communities are explored through her work, as is an exploration of material.

For Vessels + Sticks Eden created a stunningly powerful series of sculptures titled “Destruction to Reclamation” using recycled shards of functional commercial pottery. These shards create a layered armour representing the resilience developed when faced with challenges, self doubt, and a sense of fragility. The shards were made by others for another purpose, but are part of a complex figure with a core of inner strength.

Meet Eden Bender



Lobelia D’Arienzo

Arezzo, Italy

Lobelia studied fine art in Florence, Italy at the Accademia di Belle Arti and at first worked in theatre as a costume designer. After the birth of her son, a number of years ago, she discovered ceramic art. The artist beautifully describes the shift she experienced when she began working with clay. “Ceramics naturally transformed my centre, like the evolution of a story.” This journey of self discovery through making is one that I find endlessly inspiring.

Lobelia continues to have the courage to try new techniques, forms, textures etc in her practice. She acknowledges that each piece may not survive a particular stage of the process, but her failures force her to revise her ways and to try new things. Curiosity and determination continue to be driving forces for this courageous ceramic artist.

Meet Lobelia D'Arienzo


Loren Kaplan

Toronto, Canada

Loren moved to Toronto from South Africa in 2013 and she integrates the cultural, symbolic, visual, tactile and spiritual into her work. Her concern with how cultures celebrate daily moments in life, both celebratory and challenging, are blended into her ceramic forms infusing her functional pieces with meaning.

Most of her forms are vessels as she is drawn to their potential. They can contain something or nothing and if empty they are equally as beautiful and have space for something to be held. Their state is not permanent. Loren’s vessels are loaded with symbolism and are suggestive of opportunity and change.

Meet Loren Kaplan

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