Mustard Seeds
September 2023 

Interloc is pleased to present Mustard Seeds, a solo exhibition of new work by E. Saffronia Downing, her first in Maine. Join us for an opening reception with the artist Saturday, September 30. The work will be on view through November 18.


Mustard Seeds

“… I came lugging this great heavy sack of stuff, my carrier bag full of wimps and klutzes, and tiny grains of things smaller than a mustard seed, and intricately woven nets which when laboriously unknotted are seen to contain one small blue pebble, an imperturbably functioning chronometer telling the time on another world…”

Ursula K. Le Guin, The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction

Mustard Seeds is an accumulation of earthen debris I collected between 2018-2023. Shards of broken pots, test tiles, clay dug, and beaches combed – this exhibition unravels the ongoing archeology of my studio practice. Patterned side by side, the artifacts reveal a process of building up and breaking down. In a cyclical gesture, the bits and pieces are absorbed into mortared surfaces and metabolized into new works. I’ve integrated these fragments into the vessel form to trace relations between the container and the tiny things that ask for containment. Scooping up the shards of my studio practice, Mustard Seeds is an acknowledgement that my trace on this earth may be a heap of ceramic bits, my thumbprint on a clay lump enduring into futurity.

-E. Saffronia Downing

Interloc is a multidisciplinary art space that provides access to contemporary artists through exhibitions, events, and publications, directed by Alexis Iammarino and Maeve O’Regan since 2017. 

Last spring, I made open call through social media for samples of unfired wild clay. The project was an experiment to trace the threads connecting people and their places. In early August, parcels of carefully wrapped clay appeared at the postal box. The clay was dug by 15 pairs of hands, between 9 states, and two countries. Each sample was packaged with care and attention– in Ziploc bags, wrapped in bubble wrap, cushioned with packing peanuts, accompanied with letters describing where the clays were found. As a collection, these samples illuminate shared attentiveness toward handfuls of earth that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. This project posits that clay foraging can be a tool for connectivity across disparate landscapes.