Emma Estelle Chambers is an emerging artist based in Little Rock Arkansas. She received a BFA in Painting and a minor in ceramics from UA Little Rock. She began experimenting making her own oil paint in university, collecting rocks and minerals around Arkansas and hand processing them into usable pigments. After graduating, she has begun using these same pigments in her ceramics practice. She routinely participates in local art markets where she sells ceramics and paintings made with her personally refined Arkansas pigments. Chambers is now reaching out to local stores and galleries to reach a wider audience.
In my artistic practice, I employ the use of wild piments foraged around Arkansas, my home state. I refer to a wild pigment as any material, but usually a rock or mineral, that I encounter unexpectedly in nature. These rocks and minerals contain impurities that formed during the natural process of their formation. These impurities remain intact throughout the refinement process, providing unique characteristics to the final pigments and a wild quality to the resulting art.
The refinement process begins with the collection of the raw materials. I source my rocks and minerals from Bauxite, Magnet Cove, the Saline River, and Little Rock. I involve the community in my collection process as well: I receive rocks from the Arkansas Geological Survey and local rockhounders. Involving the community means that I am not only directly referencing the land, but also its people. By involving the community, my art becomes a symbol of the community celebrating the land that we call home.
My method of making celebrates the raw, wild colors found in Arkansas. When used in ceramic glazes, the pigments yield interesting and unexpected results. The color of the mature glazes can vary wildly from those of the raw pigments. These results can vary even when using the same pigment but adjusting the glaze to pigment ratio. Limonite, a yellow ochre, is a yellow pigment, but depending on the percentage added to the glaze base, can yield colors ranging from red to brown to near-black. Red shale, an iron oxide, can be a pale, translucent green with orange speckles when added at low percentages to a glaze base, but can turn into a beautiful dark sage green with red flecks at higher percentages.
My ceramic pieces consist primarily of vessels. The vessel, a container, represents the deliberate collection of something with the purpose to use and share later. This theoretical collection parallels my deliberate collection of the raw pigments. But instead of water or grain, my vessels are filled with the intent to share the colors of the earth, of the rocks and minerals found just outside our homes that are often overlooked.