The District Clay Gallery Presents Vicki Wilson Vital Breath

By Editorial Team on September 4, 2019

Sat, 31 August 2019 - Wed, 04 September 2019

Behead by Vicki Wilson. Courtesy of the artist.
Reception: Saturday, August 31 from 6pm to 9pm

A one year long residency at District Clay Center was more than an opportunity to concentrate on a body of work for Vicki Wilson, who grew up in the DMV but has called Oregon “home” for the past 24 years. This opportunity brought her into close proximity with her birthplace, relatives and the very origins of her family. The result is a new body of sculptural ceramic work titled “Vital Breath” on view at the District Clay Center Gallery from Saturday August 24thth through September 4th.  The August 31st reception from 6-9pm will include a slide talk by the artist from 6:30-7:30 and the unveiling of a new exterior artwork for the District Clay building, a community fundraising project led by Wilson.

“Vital Breath” is a translation for words in various languages that mean soul or psyche. The work in this show draws on Wilson’s established language of using the figure as a platform for the psychological experiences of memory, dream and emotion. While some of the work reflects on the past, many sculptures are manifestations of excitement and hope for the future. The sculpture “Burner” is one such work. Radiating colors and shapes burst forth from the head of this figure, referencing sunrise, flame and a really good hair day. “These images are expressions of empathy and that is the real progress that has happened at this residency”, says Wilson, “Hope for the future, for me, includes putting my self into others’ shoes”. In my mind, these sculptures hold gender, race and life stories other than my own, but we all inhabit the same psychological spaces. We all feel hope and hopelessness, loss, love and desire. This work helps me to consider others journeys.”

The Mosaic Planter Fundraising Project: As artist in residence, Wilson taught in the “Community Clay!” Program, a non-profit created by District Clay Center that provides weekly free clay classes to kids at THEARC Community Center in SE DC. As her residency concluded, Wilson spearheaded an effort to raise the funds for next year’s program. With a goal of $2500, the project raised almost $4000 in a month long campaign. Contributors could donate $30 to the program and get a personal inscription or name inscribed on a tile for one of two large mosaic planters that will border the entrance to the center. Wilson created the design and cement planter structures as well as a complementary mosaic exterior sign for the center. The production of the ceramic tiles is ongoing at the District Clay Center and involves several community members. More information about this project and program can be found at

About Vicki Wilson: 503-730-7577
Instagram: @visdirtroad
Vicki Lynn Wilson was born in District Heights, MD and moved to Oregon in 1995 after an Art Foundation year at VCU. She holds a BFA from Pacific Northwest College of Art and an MFA from Portland State University, both in Sculpture.  Wilson has been collaborating on public and private commissions with her husband, John Larsen , for over a decade. The team has completed several permanent installations including the Oregon Zoo and Main Street Oregon City. The pair was awarded multiple Presidential Volunteer Service awards for their unique neighborhood community garden. Wilson has taught Sculpture, Ceramics, Drawing and Design for Oregon colleges since 2005 and was a 2017 artist in residence at Cub Creek Foundation in Appomattox, Va. In Fall 2019, Wilson will be teaching Ceramics and Design at Marymount University and leading a neighborhood art project as a visiting artist at Baltimore Clayworks.

District Clay Center is located at 2414 Douglas Street NE.