Lisa Schenkelberg is a ceramic artist exploring the underlying interconnectivity at the heart of nature. She studied art and psychology at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY where she graduated in 2002 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. After graduation, she remained in Saratoga Springs for a yearlong independent study in ceramics before moving to San Francisco in 2003. Over the next decade, she continued to hone her craft at various studios throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. In 2015, she began sharing her work with the public. In 2019, her work was published for the first time in Create! Magazine and she received Best in Show in the Pattern and Abstraction group exhibition at Fe Gallery in Sacramento, CA. Her work was selected to show in the annual Made in California group exhibition two years in a row, in 2019 and 2020, at The City of Brea Art Gallery. Her work was also shown in the What Lies Beneath group exhibition at Epperson Gallery of Ceramic Arts in Crockett, CA in 2020 and in their National Clay Competition group exhibition in 2021. She completed a month-long artist’s residency at the Buffalo Creek Art Center in Gardnerville, NV in June, 2021 and her work was recently on view in the Form and Function group exhibition at Applied Contemporary in Oakland, CA and in the Off Center group exhibition at Blue Line Arts in Roseville, CA. She was invited to present an artist’s lecture in conjunction with the Off Center exhibition and she also received the People’s Choice Award for her piece The Butterfly Effect. She recently moved back to her hometown of Cleveland, OH with her husband and continues to dedicate her time to both her art practice and her work as a holistic counselor.
What is one thing you’d like our readers to know about you?
In addition to my work with clay, I am also a practitioner of the healing arts, offering holistic counseling, intuitive skills development, and eco-therapy in one-to-one sessions, as well as in group settings. I see both my art practice and my counseling practice as streams of creative process that overlap and feed one another, each enhanced and enriched because of the other. One way that I have directly combined these two streams is through outdoor workshops in which I invite participants to intuitively work with clay through a series of experiential, somatic, and sensory-based exercises. The intention that I have held in these workshops is to offer a container in which participants may deepen in their felt-sense connectivity with nature, and I hope to offer more such experiences in the future.
The various ways that my creative expression takes shape in the world is informed by a vast myriad of interests and passions, including Earth-based spirituality, animism, ancestral studies, ancient histories, symbolism, psychology, dreamwork, energy healing, ecology, systems theory, social justice, intersectional movements of liberation, the evolution of consciousness. and the restoration of living in harmony within nature.
What is your biggest source of inspiration?
My work is inspired first and foremost by my love for the Earth and I am moved everyday by the infinite ways that nature finds expression in a varied array of diverse forms. Through my work, I seek to explore the underlying interconnectivity at the heart of nature. I am interested in articulating a symbolic representation of the inherent interdependencies that connect all living beings in a vast web of complex systems and relationships. My intention is to emphasize the animating energy streaming through all life through highlighting the generative dynamism and interdependent unfolding within organic systems.
My work is equally inspired by the legacy of ceramics as an ancient art form. Ceramic out of the earthen material of clay is one of the earliest known forms of art, stretching back into the distant epoch of the Upper Paleolithic tens of thousands of years ago. Sculpting from clay and then tempering the finished form in the transformative belly of a fire yields a profound metamorphosis, as the molecular make-up of the clay is fundamentally altered into a new substance: ceramic. To ancient peoples, this transformative process must have held a numinous and magical power in
which they were active co-participants. Fundamental to such ancient cultures, as well as to present-day indigenous cultures, is an animist worldview in which all elemental beings, including humans, are inextricable extensions of the Earth and Cosmos, and therefore, their art can be viewed as a tangible expression of a way of being in harmony with nature.
My work with clay draws from the taproot of this ancestral lineage, from these old ways buried deep in the mud. Stretching through time and space, and up through the rich loam of the Earth, these roots nourish and sustain me. Rooted in this lineage, my work holds a vision for the future of humanity--that those of us still living within and under the structures and systems of patriarchy, capitalism, and colonialism will reawaken to our inherent interdependence within nature, leading to a profound reorientation and transformation in how we live and relate with all beings.
Why do you create and how has your art practice affected your life?
I consider the Earthen material of clay to be one of my most enduring and greatest teachers. Working with clay is like a meditation for me. Working with clay is in my bones and reminds me that I am part of a vast, interconnected whole. I see my creative process as an ever-evolving relationship with clay and the forms that emerge as the co- creative fruition of a dynamic dialogue. This process mirrors how all organic systems arise out of complex interrelationships.
Through its tangibility and immediacy, clay helps support me in connecting to the present moment. I respond to the material tactility of the clay just as much as the clay responds to the moment-to-moment flow of my movements and choices. Clay teaches me how to listen, how to respond, and when to yield; how to soften, let go and be open. Clay teaches me about foundation and how to be grounded. Clay teaches me how to trust in the process and shows me that new possibilities emerge spontaneously and organically out of an unfolding relational process; that the end result cannot necessarily be planned or forced; that, in fact, there really is no such thing as an “end result.” This co-creative process connects me to what I believe to be a profound truth about what it is to be alive in embodied form on this Earth--that life at its core is a dynamic, alchemical, ever-transforming and ever-evolving flow of interdependent emergence and that consciously aligning with this flow can lead to the miraculous unfurling of remarkable possibilities.