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Artist Statement

Hey y’all my name is Jessie McClanahan, and it's lovely to meet ya! I’m a ceramics and mixed media artist hailing from southern West Virginia. It’s someplace special with a people all their own, and a landscape that's so deeply revered that it’s ingrained in our culture and way of being. It’s having your maw maws jar of buttons, and your paw paws shine recipe. It’s the place where steep mountains hug pocketed communities so tightly that they only form in the valleys. Where the slopes are covered in lush old growth forests. It's the place where you’ll always find a warm bed and a meal - no matter where you're from or who you are. This is my Appalachia. 


I’m in love with my home and my work reflects that sincere love and admiration. Everything I make is through an Appalchian lens and a reverence for nature. I want to emulate the way that the moss and lichen grow over boulders; or the way that a tree grows from the cracks of a cliff and holds on with resilience. My work talks about the relationships that we have with each other and the land. Growing up in West Virginia you live in small communities surrounded by thick forests. This means you know everybody and the land like they were your neighbor. You learn about how the land is more than just a place, it's a living breathing thing, and how your community is just the same. It’s an ecosystem where everything works together and fights together to survive. My work explores these relationships and how they form who we are.   


My main medium is clay, which forms the framework for all of my pieces, I then incorporate techniques from other disciplines such as basketry and sewing. Using re-purposed and found materials is a large part of my practice; I use them to create a narrative within my work. I’m combining seemingly different materials and techniques to start a conversation about connections; these different things occupying one space combines them and creates a relationship. This is how it works in our world; we’re all connected and together, no matter how different we are. In today’s world we are polarized and disconnected from each other, our environments, and ourselves. I hope my work highlights how connected we truly are. 

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