Are we predestined by our genes? Can our childhood environment determine our career path? Can family members be the examples to which we aspire? Well, Canadian artist Erin Callahan St John has it all: the environment, the family, and the gift.
The starting point
Born to a family of artists, she had the opportunity to observe them working. However, her natural mentor was her aunt Isabella St John. Erin grew up in her aunt’s house and ceramic studio, overlooking the ocean. The breathtaking landscape even had the occassional whale pod passing by. In fact, she describes that time period as very inspirational. According to her own poetic way of seeing it, “that had a huge influence on inspiring me, determining my choice to follow the artistic trend of my family.”
Images by PILOTENKUCHE or supplied by Erin Callahan St John
Erin became her aunt Isabella’s apprentice when she was twelve. For eight years, from 2001 to 2009, she learned and improved her skills, mostly on pottery and ceramic tiles. Eager to continue learning she completed a diploma in textile studies at CNA , followed by a BFA at NSCAD, where she majored in ceramics and minored in art history.
In 2014 she opened Saucy Pots Pottery, specialising in rude pots. Erin first presented her works in her hometown on the island of Newfoundland. Later she exhibited further afield in Toronto, China, Germany and Italy. This is how Erin became interested in travelling.
Erin breaks the mould
December 2022 marked a changing point in Erin’s life. She closed the business because she didn’t feel she had the freedom to do the kind of topical work she desired. She felt confined by the whims of public demand. But which topic to address first? As a result of travelling, she felt more aware of the reality that newcomers face on a daily basis.
That is why she is connecting with migrants while here on the international residents’ program at PILOTENKUECHE. They come and sit for her. As she sketches them, she interviews them. The questions focus on their history and the cultural impact moving has had on their everyday lives. Erin will integrate the interviews into her work, as a way of making the portraits more alive. Erin aims to engage the audience and make the portraits more dynamic and relatable. Her goal is to combat “othering” through the sharing of personal experiences.
What is next for Erin ?
After her residency at Pilotenkueche, she is staying a little longer to produce solo show at the Internationale Frauen Leipzig e.V. Women’s Center in Leipzig. Another exhibition is planned for 2024 at the Fluvarium in St. John’s, Newfoundland.
written by Diégo Philip
Vernissage 20 May 7-10 PM
Open Sun 21, Sat 27, Sun 28 May 4-8PM
Vernissage 17 June 7-10 PM
Open Sun 18 – Wed 21 June 4-8 PM
vernissage 29 June
Internationale Frauen Leipzig e.V. Women’s Center