Ayumi Horie | Studio Potter

Ayumi Horie uses her ceramic art to advocate for social change. In her Portland pottery studio, she makes bowls, plates, cups, and other items, many adorned with animal drawings. To Horie, these everyday objects act as educational tools and are the “perfect catalysts for social change and dialogue.” One project she helped launch in 2016, the Democratic Cup, enlisted 42 artists nationally to create a collection of cups with images of civil rights leaders and progressive messages. One of her newest pieces for the project is titled the Vaccination Cup and features pictures of grumpy germs next to a syringe-wielding woman. “They do their work softly and intimately when people’s defenses are lowered,” Horie says of the cups. “Coffee is a daily habit, and cups are naturally narrative, so adding social and political imagery fuels a conversation.” Horie grew up in Lewiston-Auburn and credits her inspiration for becoming a potter to Maine’s rich heritage of craft and to her family, who taught her to use her hands to fish and garden. She has used her artwork to fundraise for causes as well. In 2011 Horie organized Handmade for Japan, a campaign that included an auction of artists’ works to raise over $100,000 for earthquake disaster relief in Tohoku, Japan. She also cofounded Portland Brick, a collaborative public art project, where stories of human moments were stamped into local clay and fired into bricks that repaired sidewalks on India Street in Portland. As a result of her work and activism, Horie was honored as a Distinguished Fellow in Crafts by United States Artists. She serves on the board of trustees of the Haystack Mountain School of Crafts and is a trustee at the American Craft Council.

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