‘Quiet can speak volumes” says Shannon Holt about her ceramic forms, “If you take a moment to look, there is a lot of story in a quiet piece.” A designer and creative director by trade, she discovered that clay was a perfect medium to experiment with form and texture – a new way to investigate ideas and to get her hands satisfyingly dirty.
In 2013, she left her design office to explore ceramics full time at Oregon College of Arts and Crafts. After completing the yearlong program she rented a small studio space and continued to work intensely for over a year, making small batches of elegantly shaped vessels that reflect her personal aesthetic. Her desire is that they be appreciated first and foremost as aesthetic objects. “Most of my forms function as vessels or vases, but to me, their real strength is in simply being appealing design pieces.” says Holt.
Eso Esto – “that-this” in Spanish – suggests the small-scale design enquiries that Holt undertakes with her work, and reflects the humbleness of the materials she uses: “Raw materials transforming into something sophisticated and beautiful is rather magical.” It is this transformation, accomplished by hand, that appeals to Holt.
Though the designs are deliberately spare, they are not speedily produced; Holt hopes that the people who see her work will appreciate that each piece is actually quite time-intensive, meticulous in line, yet rich in texture and detail. A “high touch product,” that is best experienced in person (she sells her work mostly through a few specialty retail shops, and also on her online site).
One thing that Holt is committed to in her work, is to keep the batches small; explore and refine one form, then move on to discover the next one that captures her imagination. While she appreciates the amount of grit and hard work required for larger production work, she simply knows that it isn’t her style of working. “The most important question is ‘what is the path that feels right?’”
Looking forward, Holt is eager to introduce collaborative thought into her ceramic work, connecting with metal smiths, woodworkers and glassblowers. Her long-term goals are to keep discovering and refining forms and techniques; grow the business slowly and sustainably, and build her brand via consistent quality of work.
“Where I’m at now is the perfect place,” Holt says, “Eso Esto is so rich with potential.”