Katrina Chaytor is a nationally and internationally known ceramic artist and educator based in Calgary, Alberta, where she has been a permanent member of the ceramics faculty at the Alberta College of Art + Design since 2001. Born and raised on the Avalon Peninsula in Newfoundland, she received her BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax and her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, Alfred, New York. She has exhibited in numerous national and international group, two-person and solo exhibitions. She has been an invited participant for residencies in Greece, Mexico, Red Deer College, Watershed Centre for the Ceramic Arts in Maine and Medalta International Artists-in Residence in Medicine Hat. In 2007, she was one of ten Canadian ceramic artists invited to participate in a month-long residency at the Fule International Ceramics Art Museums (FLICAM) at FuPing, Shaanxi, China. She has lectured and taught workshops across Canada including at the Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts in Victoria. Chaytor has been awarded grants from the Manitoba Arts Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Arts and the Canada Council, and her work is held in public and private collections across Canada and in China.Katrina Chaytor is best known for her hand-built functional ware including elaborate sets of stacking condiment pots and flower holders. These are constructed with the precision of an architect and decorated with the eye of a painter. Inspiration from the industrial arts is evident in the clean lines and geometrical purity of much of her work and in the flawless perfection with she completes every detail. She works with slab construction, imparting complex patterns onto her surfaces with plaster moulds and enhancing them with luminous glazes in jewel-like colours. She is dedicated to functional work, believing that “pots have an inherent and intimate connection to daily life.” She makes pots “that serve and signify; connect sensuous life with active experience; and intertwine use with beauty, necessity with pleasure.” Much of her studio research has focused on the role of ornament as a “mediator between art and life” in contemporary culture. Chaytor has written and presented extensively on the symbolic and semantic value of ornamental motifs. She responds to decoration’s capacity to “carry information and ‘carry on’ a performance,” its ability to both delight the eye and impart meaning through visual signs. Considering the sorts of motifs that resonate in our world, she pays close attention to the design of computer codes and symbols, incorporating them into complex patterns that also reflect her love of historical ceramics. In her view, the use of digital iconography grants currency to her work, thus fulfilling one of decoration’s basic principles, and it challenges us to consider the degree to which decoration’s rich visual language reveals many of society’s values, traditions and cultural structures. She builds complex ornament through repeating patterns based on motifs inherent in our technological environment including computer keyboard icons, circuitry references and desktop symbols. Recently, the natural imagery she preferred previously has reemerged to mesh with the digital, “acknowledging our complex relationship and negotiation within the technological and natural world.” Her work encourages viewers to notice the beauty and graphic interest inherent in the industrial world and to recognize how such ornament functions in the design of our everyday environment. Chaytor’s intriguing and sensuous work makes important and relevant contributions to ceramics and to contemporary craft and art discourse.
Katrina Chaytor will be speaking in Room 245 of the North Building of Emily Carr University on November 12 at 7:30. The lecture is free and open to the public. We would love to see you there!