Ramson chose the following for the Grounded in Clay exhibit:
Reliving Ancestral Connections
This ceramic jar has been dated to around 1920. Unfortunately, nothing is known about the maker. When I compared the jar to the simpler bowl on pages 124–25, a thought occurred to me: more than 700 years separated the making of the two vessels. I selected this jar because I was captivated by the complexities of its unique shape and intricate designs. Conversely, I was attracted by the simplicity of the bowl. As I contemplated the differences between the two, I started asking myself, what changes occurred during those centuries? That, in turn, led me to a more fundamental question: what compels change itself? If we were to ponder this query, I have no doubt that we would have a clearer understanding of the “hows” and “whys” of change.
I believe that we are changed by movement into new physical environments; by a growing awareness of our worldviews; by new technology (whether it comes to us intentionally or by accident); and, no less importantly, by the art that we bring into the world. These two works of art speak of that change. This is where the stories of the artists are told; this is where change resides —in their creations, their struggles and pain in gathering and preparing the clay and paints that became the joy and smiles of those who received the vessels; in the recurring seasons that set the example to live an orderly life, and helped the artists accept birth and death as being a part of the natural order of living. The stories and myths that blossomed from this change gave them a reason to live and to find their place in the universe. And art was, and still is, an expression of that change.
I choose not to take an overly analytical approach to art. To do so would be, in the words of Joseph Campbell, to turn a “Thou” into an “It.” I much prefer imagining the story. I would rather respect, appreciate, and honor not only the artist, but the community and culture as well. I say this because I, too, am an artist. We all are, to one degree or another. If we were not, experiential intimacy would be nonexistent. For it is through this intimacy that we find our own reason to live and our own place in the universe.