Willow Stevenson

Artist Statement

I know the feeling of rhododendron bark, bumpy and cool on my skin as I pass a tree on the path. I know the soft whispers of a heron’s wings soaring over the river. I know the movements of dirt, mica, and river rocks as I stand at the water’s edge – fully engulfed in the aura of the blue ridge mountains rising around me. Growing up in Appalachia, I have always been amazed by the majesty of the mountains and the ways they change each season, every day really, but often in very subtle, cyclical ways. I am mesmerized by these mountains and I started making pottery and animations to capture the aliveness and the magic of the landscape around me. The relationship between my animations and my ceramic vessels conveys the inextricable connections between humans and nature and the ways in which people affect the land and the ways in which land affects people. Clay is like a body, like a landscape. The animations projected onto my pottery create a digital glaze and bring a living breath to the clay.
When I’m walking in nature, time itself seems to slow. I feel suspended, focused. I get a similar feeling when I’m creating. It is vital to capture, through animations, a few seconds of clouds blowing across the sky above the mountains, or a hand skimming over dry grasses, hands holding each other, a river flowing, or figures moving and dancing. It is also vital for me to touch and experience clay in my hands, which in itself is constantly morphing: drying, cracking, hardening, forming, being fired. The way clay changes and morphs is similar to how a body ages and how landscapes evolve over time. We live in a world that promotes constant expansion and productivity over the cyclical and the regenerative. My work shows viewers the deeply rooted connections between humans and nature as well as the connections between ourselves and others. It is a reminder to delight in and honor the uncapturable details of the world around us.


Born and raised in the mountains of Western North Carolina, I grew up spending most of my days outside, making art: muddy hands and bare feet at the river bank, mixing wildflowers into pretend tinctures, making inks from berries and walnuts, drying plants to use in collages, and befriending the land around me. I love working at the intersection of art + the environment as well as integrating multiple mediums. My art strives to capture the magic of the Appalachian landscape and convey the inextricable connections between humans and nature through hand drawn animation, ceramics, videos, and projection. I am a graduate of Guilford College where I double majored in Art and Environmental Studies and was a part of the Bonner Scholars service learning scholarship program.