Lisa Conway lives in Portland, Oregon and was born in Detroit, Michigan. She received her BFA in Ceramics from the University of Michigan in 1990, and her MFA in Ceramics from Louisiana State University in 1993. She has completed numerous artist residency programs, including working at Anderson Ranch Art Center, the Archie Bray Foundation, Ash Street Project, the Contemporary Crafts Gallery, Leland Ironworks, the Oregon College of Art and Craft, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the Watershed Center for Ceramic Arts. Lisa has exhibited her work in hundreds of different shows around the country, including venues such as the Museum of Contemporary Craft, the Alaska State Museum, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center, and the Portland Art Museum. Lisa has received grants from the Oregon Arts Commission and the Regional Arts and Culture Council in Portland. Her work is included in several prominent collections including the Harborview Medical Center Collection in Seattle and the Alaska State Museum Collection in Juneau. Lisa Conway has taught ceramics at the University of Alaska in Anchorage, the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary, and is currently Professor of Art and Head of the Ceramics Area at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington.
I want to make beautiful objects that engage the viewer on a direct, physical level. My pieces strongly evoke the natural plant world, and I use these flora elements to reference the human body. My goal is to create pieces evoking the physical sensations that people experience while in relationships, and ultimately the subtle emotions that give rise to them. My work, therefore, may seem to represent bodies and plants that are blushing, tender, eager, sagging, erect, or deflated. In this way, I hope to bring about a greater sensitivity for how we treat each other, and how our own sense of identity is created through our emotional responses to others.
I believe in the power of the natural world and physical materiality to help us navigate through this process of creating our own emotional identity. The natural world can serve as a touchstone to help ground us as we evolve and develop our own sense of self. Like plants growing towards the sun, I believe sexuality is a major force around which we gravitate. My work, therefore, has a very strong sensual theme
My conceptual development is rooted with a deep understanding of ceramic processes and surface treatment. I employ this sensitivity and expertise with ceramic materials to draw the viewer in toward my work. A soft edge of porcelain might remind one of the plump hips of a lover, perhaps. A luscious glaze surface may evoke the overwhelming sense of joy we feel in the throes of sensual love.
All my work is hand-built with either porcelain or white earthenware clay and glaze fired multiple times to develop rich layers of color and texture. I may start by building a rough form, or create several organic elements to later join together. As the piece develops, I spend more and more time refining the form and composition. I constantly test new combinations of glazes, fired in layers, to bring depth to my work and create a sense of subtle drama. My most recent work is a series of illuminated, wall mounted porcelain sculptures. Using a combination of spray-cast and handbuilt elements, I take advantage of the translucency of porcelain to create pieces that seem to pulse with life and sensual energy.
I take great inspiration from the natural world of the Pacific Northwest, having lived and worked here as a practicing artist for over twenty-five years. My breath is frequently taken away by the majesty of the natural world around me. These moments of deep appreciation help me treat others more gently, with greater compassion, and help me appreciate daily life with a greater sense of joy. I hope that my work can serve as a vehicle to do this for others.