Haley Johnson is pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in ceramics with a minor in art history at Rhode Island College, and will graduate this upcoming Spring. Most days you will find Haley in the ceramics studio within Alex and Ani Hall working hard on the body of work started last semester, prior to RIC’s abrupt closing due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Every semester, students in the BFA program work hard to produce a cohesive body of work to be reviewed by a panel of faculty members in the format of a final review. Last Spring, Haley would have completed the final review required for the program and would have been given valuable feedback from the judges. Although exceptions were made where Haley and other students in the program would complete the program without the review, Haley knew the work they completed last spring was too important to simply let go.
This Fall, Haley continues working on a very meaningful and personal body of work that has incorporated elements from past reviews and will surely leave an impact on audiences. As a member of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, Haley recognizes the importance of advocating for those who may not have a voice to tell their stories and uses art as a way to give them their voice. Haley explained how most people still think of Native Americans as people living in teepees or don’t believe they still exist today. One of the most important goals of Haley’s work is to educate audiences about indigenous peoples living in the world today and to share their stories and experiences.
Haley spent time researching food consumed by indigenous peoples which prompted the idea of turning the food into sculptures. By adding faces of indigenous peoples on the food, Haley aims to express the food insecurities faced while still implementing cultural ties. Haley describes the work as “highlighting the need for food sovereignty among indigenous peoples through sculpture.” Using art as a vehicle for advocacy as well as simply a teaching moment for those who don’t know about indigenous culture and gives them the opportunity to hear the voices of indigenous peoples.
As seen in the photograph of Haley’s work, each sculpture is made of clay and has been carved to represent the faces of indegiouns peoples and the food they consume. Haley has experimented with the sizes of the sculptures and is also paying close attention to the actual sizes of the food used as reference. Haley is currently looking forward to trying a new method of firing in the coming weeks to give the work a new finish that will hopefully be incorporated into many of the pieces already made.
Haley’s work is personal and powerful, especially if you have the chance to view it in person. As of right now, Haley is hopeful that final BFA reviews will take place in person at the end of the semester. In the meantime, you can follow Haley’s art Instagram @16pointceramics to stay up to date with their latest work and updates on the final review in December.