Ansley Wilson
(they/them/theirs)

What got you interested in clay?

I changed my major three times in college because I was searching for something that felt right for me, not my family, not any particular job, and eventually not to fulfill societal expectations of a worthwhile education. I had always been creative growing up, but never allowed myself to truly pursue anything artsy because I was afraid of being a failure; I compared myself to everyone else and thought I wasn’t talented enough to be an artist. When I gave myself the freedom to do whatever the hell I wanted, I chose art, more specifically, I chose clay. There is something undeniably sensual, visceral, and wonderful about clay that I couldn’t say no to after taking an Intro to Ceramics class at SDSU where I got my degree in Applied Art and Design emphasizing ceramics.

How long have you been working in clay?

I first touched clay in the spring of 2018 after the first semester of my art major, so it’s been about 5 years of playing with clay!

What does your work intend to say?

My work is made out of equal parts joy, frustration, anger, sorrow, and love. All these mixed emotions relate to mine and our shared human-ness, and how hard it is to be a human. More specifically, how hard it is to be a human that is deemed unlovable, unnatural, unimportant, ugly, and untouchable. While I’m making a piece, whether it’s handbuilt or thrown, I think about how it will feel to be touched, and since I mostly make naked people pots, I want each piece to be held with care, like a hug. My work invites you to touch and see and appreciate our human-ness which looks like beautifully unique shades of skin color, fat and stretch-marked bellies, lopsided breasts, hairy legs, dimpled butts, and, most dear to me, trans bodies. It’s an invitation to love others and love yourself.

What inspires you?

I have found a lot of inspiration within myself. I am queer, I am trans, I am non-binary, fat, hairy, scarred and stretch-marked, anxious, often lacking confidence yet passionate…all of the things that make up who I am turns into art somehow. Self-portraiture was healing for me, but after many many– maybe too many– self-portraits, I realized that I cannot keep my mind or my art fixated on myself. So, my art is inspired by those whose bodies and existences defy the absurd norm of beauty or worthiness in white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied and or thin-bodied maleness.

Who and what are your biggest influences?

Some artists I love and learn from are Lynne Hobaica (@lynnehobaica), Sydnie and Haylie Jimenez (@syddd.viciouss and @_h4yli3), Joy Yamusangie (@joyyamusangie), Giselle Hicks (@gisellehicks), Soojin Choi (@soojinchoiii), Phoebe Wahl (@phoebewahl), Ginny Sims (@ginnysimsceramics), and my first and favorite ceramics teacher Mary Cale Wilson (@marycale), who told me to pursue ceramics. As far as what influences me, I’d say color, texture, form, and function of art and life

What's your favorite piece of artwork that you've created?

During quarantine 2020, while I still lived with my family, I hand-built a few “quilt” cups inspired by comfort, home, and my favorite weathered quilt I stole from my parents at a young age. I love patchwork, African and African-American folk art quilts and designs, like Faith Ringgold’s narrative quilts, and how special quilts can be to each individual. When I moved out of my family home and in with my partner months later, I left the unfired cups on a tray under the steps leading up to my apartment not knowing it would rain that night, and sadly they all melted. They’re still my favorite.

What is your most important artist tool?

My hands.

How do you want your work to affect your audience?

I want people to feel seen, validated, beautiful, loved, and like a work of art. Or to see, validate, experience the beauty, love, and know that those who are different from them are works of art even if those people have been excluded from the art world. I also want people to be uncomfortable and reflect if and when they do not like my artwork.

Describe your idea of artistic success?

Making art even if only for yourself. I have built two-foot tall vases only to recycle their clay, and it was worth it.

Anything else you’d like to share?

I feel lucky to utilize Get Centered Clay Studios, and proud that I have a place here.

Ansley and Their Art

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See more of their work on Instagram @nakedceramics