Shannon Towey Invitational
October 12th, 2022 - February 6th, 2023
The Person Behind the Piece
By Hannah Holmes, Circulation Assistant
Shannon Towey, a 2022 Campbell graduate, studied biology during her time in the Creek and currently works in the gene therapy lab at Pfizer. As a student, she found a hobby in ceramics to balance out her rigorous biology class load. After taking Ceramics 1 as an elective, Shannon decided to pursue her artistic journey and newfound talent with an independent study in ceramics.
As she creates, Shannon tries not to set hard boundaries for herself. “It's up to the clay,” she says, describing how she simply allows a piece to form itself using her hands as the shaping tool. Despite being someone who needs to have control, she has found she is able to let loose with ceramics. In “messing up” and trying to fix things even if they seem too far gone, Shannon finds and sets her artistic limits.
Her artistic process of going with the flow has transitioned into her personal life, aiding her in struggles with anxiety and letting go of things beyond her control. She defines both her art and personal growth as works in progress, and says about her studio process, “I can get in here and think without thinking too hard about life. I'm able to Zen out and get hypnotized by the wheel.”
During the 2022 Wiggins Memorial Academic Symposium, Shannon submitted a stylized geometric teapot, which was a Merit Award recipient; she currently uses this winning teapot to water her plants every day. Librarian Dan Maynard loved her work so much that he asked her if she would be willing to make a piece to display in the library's art gallery, and she obliged.
Originally, Shannon set out to make a vase, but said that as she was throwing, “It turned into a pitcher. It just kind of comes to you when you're on the wheel - the process is so fluid, and you can only make the clay do so much.” For her piece, Shannon used a marbling process which incorporates a powder dye in with the natural color of the clay, creating a swirled pattern once folded in and the clay has been wedged. This process was outlined in Shannon's exhibit for the Student Art Gallery in Fall 2022.
Shannon wants her pieces to be functional, sturdy, and serve a purpose. When people view her pieces, she wants them to think, “Oh my God this thing is awesome,” and to want one of their own to use. She describes being tasked with creating an object with good functionality for a friend whose mother, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, struggles to hold mugs due to limited mobility. The friend asked Shannon to create a mug with a bigger-than-usual handle so there would be more space for her mother's fingers. Shannon's creativity led her to design a piece with a divot in the wall of the cup rather than a chunkier handle.
Shannon hopes viewers of her work will see how much of herself, her time and energy, she has put into it. She does not define herself as a professional sculptor, and is unsure whether she wants to sell her work in the future. She does not want the process to become a chore, but to continue to push the boundaries of what she is able to do as an artist, enjoying the process of trying to make each creation the best functional piece possible.