Vancouver artist and educator Sally Michener has inspired three generations of ceramists in B.C. since joining the faculty of Emily Carr in 1973, yet it is a rare treat to see her own work exhibited. Michener moved away from functionalism and the pottery wheel early in her career. For 25 years, she has been hand building sparse and anthropomorphic ceramic columns, pyramids and arches. Her groundbreaking feminist work emphasized the personal and the body politic, as depicted in her sombre self-portrait clay masks or through her slim, sparse phallic shafts. Even when crowded together in dense groups, her pieces retain a strong sense of social isolation. For the past ten years, Michener has created mosaic-like narratives by decorating the surfaces of her clay bodies or wood grounds with shards of glazed ceramic tile and mirror. Indigenous symbols have been a strong feature of her work, particularly those taken from motifs found in Pre-Columbian Mexican pottery, artwork from India and the ceramics of Japan. With her early retirement from Emily Carr, it will likely be a pleasure to witness new directions in her work.
© Mia Johnson