Sherri Aytche found her way to clay soon after moving to Portland from New York City. “I am a city girl, born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. I found working with clay to be a bridge to connect me to my new West Coast residence. An education major focused on counseling, clay became a metaphor for life for me. As a clinical specialist, I found myself making vessels and containers to symbolically hold the stories and experiences that we hold inside and sometimes choose to share with the world. I enjoy creating ‘safe’ spaces, whether it’s a vase to hold a beautiful bouquet, or functional dinnerware plates, bowls, and cups to hold memories and experiences. I am drawn to natural colors and simple shapes influenced by culture – earthy, handmade, rustic, elements in contemporary form. Each piece is unique and imperfect which speaks of the human touch.
“I am currently working on a series of wall tiles inspired by African cloth, particularly mud cloth and kuba cloth patterns. I love texture and patterns and while African cloth can sometimes be very busy, I can take an idea or a piece of the pattern and express my cultural heritage in a simple and contemporary way.”
In response to my inquiry about public response to her work, she replied “I was at an event and an artist whose work I admired but had not met, looked at a wall piece and then did a double take and asked me if it was clay? I said yes, and he said “Wow, it’s really nice to see you do that, a simple slab with a simple design, really elegant” completely unexpected.”
If you want to meet Sherri, watch her mold a piece of clay, and maybe pick up a vessel to hold your story, be sure to stop by her studio in October during the Portland Open Studios tour this fall.