Lael Chmelyk was raised in Dawson Creek in Northern British Columbia and began making from an early age, joining a long line of obsessive craftsmen. Lael began taking ceramic classes at the age of fourteen, and from there went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics from The Alberta University of Arts in 2020.
Committed to ceramics as her first love, she creates functional objects both on and off the wheel. Lael works with an understanding that decisions made during the process of making can determine how an object is perceived and used. She is intrigued by the way the objects we use can function as catalysts of moments of quiet calm in our everyday lives. Through functional objects like ceramics and quilts, Lael can bridge a relationship between maker and user.
I am a maker who works with ceramics and quilting. I create functional pots with contrasting surfaces that create tension. Areas of quiet and overwhelm invite touch and in turn offer the user a moment of pause and intimate investigation. The white base layer points to the backgrounds of scientific illustration, where I recontextualize specimens from their histories and environments. Referencing taxonomy, I look to understand my place in the world’s classifications and rhythms.
I negotiate the idea of my body as a vessel through the long maternal history of quilting. My work communicates ideas of familial expectation placed on my body, and my decision to choose the fecundity of my mind instead of my body. Through traditional quilting methods I create tender quilts that break free from pattern. My impulse to not have children and carry the family line, is reflected in pattern that is broken and reimagined. Using the topographical map of my childhood home, I layer memory and future expectations to understand where they diverge and converge. The landscape of memory within the quilt is a further nod to the ability of quilts to wrap the body in comfort, and in doing so it reimagines the body as landscape. What happens when we envelop a child free woman in a symbol of maternal tradition? Quilting methods and techniques are passed down through maternal lines much like the intimate acts of mothering. I explore the changing boundaries of womanhood and redefine myself in my own narrative of quiet rebellion.