Art, Culture Change, Sustainabilty: The Work of Terry O'Day
Terry O’Day has used a range of craft media throughout her artistic career. Working with ceramics, glass and small metals, O’Day has produced a wide variety of traditional, functional craft objects. In recent years, however, O’Day has begun to question her role as a craftsperson, as well as her role more generally in contemporary society. As O’Day has become more conscious of ecological issues in particular, her sense of the world, and her work, has evolved dramatically. This paper will discuss the evolution of O’Day’s work and thinking, particularly focusing on her current activities, including the establishment of the B-Street Sustainability Project, a permaculture farm, as well as her efforts to help develop Our School, a place-based, environmental-themed charter school. What is perhaps most interesting about these projects, beyond their efforts to help generate and sustain positive societal impacts, is O’Day’s perception of her role within them. For O’Day, the methodology and goals she brings to her work with B-Street Farm and Our School are fully aligned with her role as a craftsperson. This paper will discuss the variety of ways in which these processes are aligned.
Terry O’Day serves as an example of the ways in which artists can work to aid in developing sustainable practices, even in seemingly non-art environments. Working outside the studio and using her highly developed craft skills, she is able to model ways that craft can be applied more broadly and meaningfully in our world today.
Keywords: Art, Craft, Sustainability, Permaculture, Education, Community Building
Assistant Professor of Art History, Art Department, Pacific University