I defy anyone to look at a piece made by Laconic Story and not smile. Equal parts whimsical and intentional, Miranda’s playful forms and bright glazes draw you right in. It’s obvious from the detail in her pieces (which get more intricate with each new animal she releases!) that her work is driven by more than a love of clay.
I had the pleasure of meeting Miranda Lee, the founder and ceramic artist behind Laconic Story, at City of Craft this past year. She’s incredibly humble and you don’t have to talk to her for long to realize that it’s the cause behind her work, not the work itself, that makes her so excited to share it with others.
Miranda majored in Environmental Design and her sculptures are her way of transforming what she knows—about an animal, their natural environment, and how humans are impacting it—into a physical reminder to care for the earth we live on and the animals we share it with.
She firmly believes that the more we know, the more we can help.
I feel lucky to have adopted one of her pieces, a small bear, which now sits on my bookcase as a daily nudge to treasure and care for my small corner of the planet.
Q & A with Laconic Story
What’s the best thing someone could say about your work?
It’s never what someone says, it’s the response that people have even when they have no intention of buying—smiling. When they look at my work, even if they are just passing by, their frowns are often turned into a smile. They do it unintentionally, too, and that’s the best thing someone can say about my work.
What’s your favourite part of the creative process?
Control and responsibility! Making is actually secondary. It may sound unconventional for an artist, but let me explain. Time, concept, execution and production are all essential to making a creative business work. All of these things require a person who likes making decisions and being in control (that’s me!). Without being in control, I may as well work a 9-5 job where I’m being told what to do.
But when you are in control—of your creative direction, your time, and your production process—you are also fully responsible. You are responsible for all the successes and faults. It sounds daunting, but with all the faults and errors that happen along the way, you always learn something out of that situation. Accepting responsibility for your decisions will help you grow to become a finer artist!
“I cannot function without purpose.”
— Laconic Story
What are you curious or excited about right now?
My curiosity is a constant. I am always curious about animals that are endangered and the issues that surround them. My curiosity leads me to research the animals, one species at a time, to get to know them better. I turn them into my work so that everyone can get to know them better and become more conscious of their lifestyle.
My current excitement revolves around the new series I am working on and hoping to release in 2020. A small hint is that whatever animal I cannot make into a jar, they will be part of this series! I am definitely excited about the fact that I can tap into more animals.
What three words best describe your work?
Whimsical, contemporary, sculptural.
I love the philosophy and intention behind your work, to support the conservation of endangered species through education. Why is that so important to you?
This core value in my work is important to me because I believe humans are made to be the stewards of nature. We are granted power and intellect over all creatures, but this also comes with the responsibility of taking care of them. We have a symbiotic relationship with all creatures that walk this planet, one way or another. Without them, we would not survive and prosper on this planet. But to help them, first humanity must get to know them.
For example, I make otters as part of my sculptural collection, but some people have responded with a disgusted face and tell me that these river otters are pests in their backyards. Perhaps river otters are indeed pests, but the otters that I want to draw attention to are the cousins of the river otters—Giant River Otters, or Sea Otters, that are actually endangered due to our current or past actions.
It is very unfortunate that we humans could know so little about the creatures that we share the planet with. I’d like my work to deliver a particular message that mass extinction does not just simply apply to bears, tigers, elephants, and rhinos—it also happens to the cousins of the pests that live in your backyard.
Are all the animals you feature in your canopic jars endangered?
My canopic jar collection did not start out with endangered animals. In fact, it was just a simple school project in which we were required to throw a container on the pottery wheel. My first animals were bears, foxes, and bunnies, and I have kept them in my collection until now. Since then, I’ve started to focus on animals at risk of extinction so that my work becomes a little more meaningful than just the cute bunnies and foxes (because I cannot function without purpose!).
In 2020, all animal jars will have their scientific name, common name, and their IUCN Status (an international assessment of an animal, in which they determine if the animal is in serious need of conservation efforts by estimating their population) written on the bottom so that I can bring that core value to my jars as well.