There are a lot of artists in Columbia County, NY, and there are a lot of people dedicated to yoga, but I found an artist who’s a yogi and somehow she’s done what we all hope to do, combining her art with her passion and her spiritual practice. Mary Anne Davis is a potter and she’s truly walking the talk. I recently found her new hand-made porcelain giftware collection “Namaste” and it’s beautiful. Perhaps if I wasn’t a yoga teacher (writer/marketing consultant) I might not have noticed the petite tumblers, the delicate incense trays and gorgeous coffee cups designed with the “om” symbol and bearing meaningful words like “breathe,” but they caught my eye in a shop in Hudson, NY. I loved how they felt in my hand, light weight with smooth edges and an expensive looking glaze. The pieces were truly inspired by all that I believe inhabits my yoga practice and apparently this is true for Mary Anne, the creator of the hand-made porcelain which actually sells for very affordable prices.
”I approach my art like a yoga practice. Having seriously studied and taught Iyengar yoga for more than 20 years, I believe that hand crafting beautiful pieces as gifts mindfully is my personal way of serving others and uniting us, which is the essence of yoga,” says the artist.
I remember when I first moved to Chatham, New York in 1990. I was an early transplant when it wasn’t nearly as glamorous to buy big old houses that were falling apart. My friends thought I was taking a radical step to leave the City and live in “the country” back when there were few people and even fewer streetlights, good restaurants and cultural offerings. It seems that Mary Anne Davis was also an early pioneer, taking up residence in Spencertown, New York, at about the same time and setting the roots for her pottery and art studio.
Mary Anne Davis brought with her some impressive credentials. She has a BFA in ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Art in Boomfield Hills, Michigan, and an MFA in sculpture from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She is currently working on her Ph.D. in critical theory and aesthetics at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts located in Portland, Maine.
Though Mary Anne takes her work seriously, she runs davistudio (davistudio.com) like it’s a 60s commune. Many workers contribute what time they can, others are students and some are on a very flexible schedule. Dogs and cats run freely underfoot and Mary Anne insists that all of the employees sit down with her and her husband each day at noon to “share a meal.” On the table are Davis’ well known dinnerware (her dishes have recently been included in Ruth Reichl’s new book, soon to be released.)
Davis says her sets of porcelain dinnerware are created with a particular philosophy, like her Namaste giftware. “The dinnerware shapes and colors are inspired by food. Sharing meals and food helps humanity thrive. If we can help co-create a beautiful world where people get along, cook, eat and talk, then I think that’s the true meaning of great art.”
Mary Anne and her fine porcelain have been part of the growing artisans home interiors conversation for decades. An artist-activist since the 1970s, Davis has developed her intellect and craft alongside her sincere beliefs in building a better world.
Her art and fine porcelain have a mass following. Her pieces can be found in homes, museums, art galleries, boutiques and specialty stores worldwide. The media has featured the progression of her art in such publications as O Magazine, Ruth Reichl’s Blog, Chronogram Magazine, Martha Stewart Living and The New York Times.
When I asked her why she chose to create gifts with the sentiments of yoga she told me, “This new Namaste collection comes at a particularly good time, “ says Davis. “Each of us in our communities is searching for personal connection. We are looking to sustain ourselves with not just wealth or food, but by discovering spirit and love, “ says the artist. “These hand made gifts can accomplish that in such a simple and beautiful way.”