Formal Evolution

It’s a pleasure to have the first “People” profile on this site be about my wife, who produces ceramics under the moniker, Formal Evolution. Her work factors into our kitchen occasionally, in a salad-serving bowl or set of small appetizer plates.

Light reflecting on a plate from Formal Evolution (see also: All-Purpose Seedy Vegan Parmesan)

But her work primarily involves thrown forms and sculptures with aesthetic rather than functional ends. It’s been exciting to see her artistic practice and philosophy develop over the time I’ve known her—to see her find a supportive audience through markets and sales around Cambridge/Boston even as she stays true to her own vision.

What I love about her work is how immediately I can feel the translation of natural shapes, patterns, and colors into the medium of ceramics. When I look at her work or hold a piece, it feels as if an encounter is taking place. The room (or the art vendor’s booth) I’m standing in suddenly seems connected to elemental energies and entities. It’s almost as if the light changes or a breeze picks up. Somehow her practice condenses and channels these natural forces into formal qualities: the bend or balance of a sculpture, the heft and color-gradient of a bud vase, etc.

The dresser where I store some of my clothes.

For some people interacting with her work, that immediate connection to nature seems to register as a deep ambiguity. But it’s an ambiguity that opens the work and/or the person to unexpected comparisons and speculations. I’ve heard strikingly different descriptions of her work across age groups and identities. I think it was our oldest child, maybe 3 at the time, who compared one of her sculptures to a “campfire,” which was a new one to me but seemed just as apt as other comparisons I’ve heard (for example, to birds, waves, leaves, hands). What such comments seem to indicate is the presence of some abstract or subconscious, perhaps metaphysical, layer of experience that these objects remind us of.

It might seem a stretch, but I think there’s a similarity between what I experience with Meghan’s work and what happens when I eat a fresh, delicious meal. There’s an encounter taking place. A deep memory being activated or recovered. A translation and distillation of energies into a material, momentary form. I recognize my place in the web of nature and enjoy the potential all things have for change, transformation, becoming. Through such moments, Formal Evolution has become an integral part of my finding a home in New England.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *