Today we’d like to introduce you to Elliott Kayser.
Elliott, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
When I was a kid my parents were very pragmatic about getting food on the table; no frills, but we ate organic and healthy. As I was coming of age I started asking questions about the choices we as consumers make in the grocery store. I experimented with a vegetarian diet, which when you are limited to cafeteria food can be quite uninspired, and in the process I discovered an allergy to soy. This adolescent exercise in identity awareness launched me into immersing myself in the unexplored agrarian community. I realized at that point I had grown up with little understanding about how to grow food, how to make it taste good, or even what influence food had on my identity. I began talking with farmers about their life, which led me to working in the fields alongside them. I wanted to work with animals, to see if I was comfortable with killing something I helped raise, and to see what it felt like to be a producer of sustenance for others. To grow food for others is a life that values cooperation, patience, and humility.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
My art is about my experience working on farms and the lessons I have learned from the people I meet along the way. This sense of connection to the land through food and with clay is both physical and spiritual for me. I am a ceramic sculptor, primarily modelling cows as a symbol for America’s agricultural landscape. In the United States people have favored urban migration over the agrarian lifestyle, in doing so we have forfeited responsibility to care for our resources, handing that “burden” over to factory farming. The disappearing family farm model not only provides an income, but it is a homestead, and the health of that environment is just as important to the rancher or farmer as it is to the livestock living there. Cattle are one of America’s greatest industries in history, from the birth of Chicago via the stock yards and railroad, to the great beef bonanza, to the Cattleman’s Association which was integral to the success of the California gold rush. Cows have symbolized the prosperity and domestication of our land. Nowadays images of the American pasture have been abstracted, repurposed for product consumption. We are sold a belief that by proxy we still have agency to make a difference in how our food is handled, just by spending a few bucks more you can feel good knowing your beef was grass fed. It has become so easy to be complicit, to claim ignorance over our impact and depletion of resources. Through my art I am looking to reestablish the connection between value and stewardship, so that we can as a country sustain economic and community health.
What would you recommend to an artist new to the city, or to art, in terms of meeting and connecting with other artists and creatives?
I am currently an artist in Residence at the Mesa Arts Center. I love having the energy of a community surrounding me daily. I would recommend for any other working artist to take advantage of short and long term artist residencies. They are a great way to expand your community and inspire new ideas to take back to your studio.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
To see my work please visit my website http://www.kayserceramics.com of follow me on Instagram @kayserceramics. Coming up in February 2019 I will have a solo exhibition at the Mesa Contemporary Art Museum. Also, at the same time I will have a public art project on the Greenway in Boston, which will be up for 1 year. Other upcoming group exhibitions include an exhibition currently on display at the Carbondale Clay Center in Colorado, an exhibition this winter at the Red Lodge Clay Center, a show at Ferrin Contemporary and a show at the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston Spring 2019 and an exhibition at the Wayne Art Center in Wayne, PA that will go up in January 2020. To be added to my mailing list email email@example.com
- Website: www.kayserceramics.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @kayserceramics
“Feed” – Peter Bugg; all other images by artist