How would you describe your art in three words?
Whimsical, Grounded, Thoughtful.
The contemporary ceramic artist behind Vessels for Danu, Aubrey Haskell, integrates nature and humanity through her physical manifestations of functional objects such as mugs, vases, jars, and dishes. Her work highlights her fondness for “Greek and Roman mythology books” as she is constantly inspired by “nature and mythology”. Her business name even spotlights the Celtic Goddess of Earth, furthering her love of the world around her. Although Aubrey has been “creating art since she was really little”, her environment also significantly pushes her pursuit as an artist. Having an older, creative sister gave her room to play with clay, but it wasn’t until college that she decided to take ceramics earnestly, where she “started throwing on a wheel and seriously working” with them in 2017. Thanks to one of her professors at Marywood University, Aubrey realized that an artistic career was possible.
Transitioning from a college community to a business owner was “tough in getting over the anxiety”, but ultimately provided positive, fun experiences for Aubrey. Not only is Aubrey the mastermind behind these ceramic works, but she also promotes them online, updates her shop, creates social media content, and works at art fairs/events. Even if this is not the typical work week, Aubrey’s business has “been very rewarding”, especially with the growth of her craft. From selling on Etsy last year to opening her website this August, Aubrey’s expansion of her ceramic business is established by her enthusiasm and passion. The ceramic process is no easy feat, as Aubrey explained the “several-day process” of actively shaping the clay, sculpting mushrooms, drying, and firing them. And all of this is done with her hands alone.
Her most notable works include vases, mugs, and planters with mushrooms trailing along the side. For Aubrey, mushrooms were “new and different…that are [both] old and new, man-made and nature.” Aubrey’s interest in juxtaposing these themes is especially seen with the “ancient Greek vessels” and more modern mushrooms growing out of them. This invites her audience to see the bridge between history and modernity, making her pieces more personal to the consumer. Since people bring these pieces made from Earth’s mud and inspired by nature to their homes, they also insert them into their lives by “drinking coffee or putting flowers on them”. Aubrey’s favorite is her “Wood and Wire Jar”, which reminds her of her start in ceramics. Though she has grown out of the melancholy mood of selling her pieces with the expansion of her business, she holds this piece dear because of her love of mixing multimedia materials. As a business owner and artist, she finds working with clay to be “therapeutic, hypnotic, and peaceful” since this process brings childhood memories.
A proponent of belief and trust, Aubrey understands the satisfaction of fighting “through anxiety” to grow as an artist. In the future, she sees herself as a “full-time sustainable artist” with “pieces in large galleries”. But Aubrey is prepared to take it slow and practice grace as a business owner and contemporary ceramic artist. More of Aubrey’s artistry and ceramic pieces can be found through an array of social media: her instagram @vesselsfordanu, her TikTok @vesselsfordanu, and her website https://vesselsfordanu.com.
Where/how do you gather inspiration?
I grew up in the Pocono Mountains in an area where there wasn’t much to do, but there was a lot of surrounding nature. I did a lot of hiking, swimming, and exploring in the forests from an early age. So it’s cliche to say, but a lot of my inspiration comes from nature because of this, like earthy colors for my glazes, smooth and natural forms, and even adding mushrooms to a lot of my pieces. I’m also inspired by the juxtapositions of two contrasting elements like contemporary and ancient or natural and man-made. I like to create pieces inspired by such contrasts by wrapping a foraged wood handle for a ceramic piece in metal wire or adding whimsical mushrooms to a piece that’s been formed like an ancient Greek amphora vessel.
What do you hope audiences retain from your work?
Since I do draw a lot of inspiration from nature, I hope that others are able to feel a grounding connection with my work. I also hope that the fun, whimsical aspects of my pieces also make them pause and smile.
Curated and written by Bell Pendon