Thanks to a Crafting Futures grant from the British Council and Crafts Council UK, I’m currently in rural Michoacan, Mexico, researching the sourcing and use of indigenous clays as a way in to environmental arts education. This project is in collaboration with art and ecology centre Guapamacátaro and local ceramics school Taller Escuela Ceramica. It was at Guapamacátaro where I had the luck of meeting Carol Padberg, one of the January artists-in-residence.
Carol Padberg is an incredibly inspiring interdisciplinary artist and founding director of the Nomad MFA program at Hartford University. I find her both a wonderfully calming and exciting human to be around. In our time together at Guapamacátaro she has made a plethora of beautiful tools and objects with the materials of this particular land, demonstrating the thoughtfulness and sheer joy of having what she refers to as ‘a backyard practice’.
In this conversation, Carol and I discuss the ways in which making can foster conversation and collaboration, the idea and importance of craft and clay as communal practices, and what it means to develop a relationship with a material you gather from the earth.
Huge thanks to Carol and her many wise words, including her references to the work of Señora Claudia and the Panchimalco weavers of El Salvador, Roxanne Swentzell’s indigenous clay work and the concept of the honourable harvest.