John Ellefson is founding member of Seattle's Florentia Clayworks Studio and is an alumnus of Pottery Northwest's residency program.
I have been a ceramic artist for most of my life, but my work shifted to specializing in cremation urns/vessels when my Father died in 2006. I felt moved to created a beautiful vessel to house his remains. It was important for me to honor his life with the beautiful and to create something with my own hands to memorialize his spirit.
In the years since, I have become part of the blossoming Death Positive movement, which seeks to return our cultural perceptions of death to be a part of the cycle of life rather than a morbidly feared inevitably. Through my clients, I have discovered that creating beautiful, meaningful artwork to honor their loved ones also aids with their grieving process. My resting vessel/urns provide a small palliative, lending a sense of closure. Created from the earth, fired into stone and eventually returning to the earth, just as our bodies do, ceramic vessels are a beautiful metaphor for the natural cycle of life and death.