Catherine Coulter Lloyd

Heat Wave

Carved and Sculpted Earthenware Box with Puzzle Cut Lid, Petunia Motif

7.5 x 5.5 x 5.5 inches

My ceramic work is about cultural, artistic, and historic traditions of memorialization. I have always represented important people and places in my life through floral motifs, but the theme of memorialization was solidified in a cemetery. I recognized the traditions of skilled stonecutters were deteriorating, eternal monuments to self or loved ones were becoming passee, and without these, fame, fortune, or descendants I would cease to exist. Not cease to live, but to exist. The people beneath the stones in that cemetery still Exist – at least to taphophiles like myself.

Taphophiles are those who have a passionate enjoyment of cemeteries, epitaphs, gravestones, or basically anything related to the history of burial culture. Each headstone elicits pause. The taphophile wonders about the person the marker commemorates; what their life was like, what the world was like during their life span, and even about the life of the artisan who carved the stone itself.

My works are cenotaphs (empty monuments erected in honor of people whose remains are elsewhere). They are laced with imagery from gravestones and ancestor celebrations across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Through the process of recreating these themes and images in my work, I perpetuate the existence of the artisans, the cultures, and the ancestors I knew and those I’ve only met through the memorials left behind. My personal fear of being forgotten started this trajectory in my work, but it morphed into a way of celebrating the existence of countless others. Ironically, I have memorialized myself through the production of objects that can last centuries.

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