Author

Natasha Wedd

Date of Award

2023

First Advisor

Ben Krupka

Second Advisor

Jennifer Daniels

Abstract

In this thesis, I explore the therapeutic potential of claywork by creating a ceramic table setting for six and presenting three psychological perspectives on clay and other "soft objects". Object relations theory, which emphasizes the role of relationships and objects in a child’s development and an adult’s life, provides a framework for understanding the significance of transitional objects for individuals in mediating their experiences with the world. Play-therapy, which builds on object relations theory, highlights the effectiveness of play and tactile activities in promoting external expression of emotions and trauma, especially for children. While claywork possesses therapeutic qualities, it can also evoke disturbing and even traumatic sensations due to its soft,flesh-like texture. And Julia Kristeva's essay, “Power of Horrors” shows how the concept of the "abject" is helpful in understanding the psychological significance of claywork, as well. Throughout this thesis project, I hope to highlight the unique qualities of clay that make it a powerful and therapeutic tool for self-expression, while also acknowledging that, for some, the soft and uncontrolled nature of clay could evoke uncomfortable sensations or even unearth prior trauma.

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