Ceramic artist Teresa Dorey with some of the pieces from her upcoming exhibition, ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Ceramic artist Teresa Dorey with some of the pieces from her upcoming exhibition, ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into,’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Ceramic artist explores ideas around empathy and touch in Nanaimo exhibition

Montreal’s Teresa Dorey presents ‘Einfühlung: Feeling Into’ at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts

Ceramic artist Teresa Dorey is interested in how and why people react to objects and she explores those empathetic responses in her upcoming show at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery.

Dorey, a Montreal-based artist, has been the artist-in-residence at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts since February and from May 11 to 30 she presents Einfühlung: Feeling Into, an exhibition of her latest body of work. It will also be viewable as a virtual tour starting May 15.

“’Einfühlung’ is the [German] word for ‘empathy,’ which is actually a relatively new word in the English language,” Dorey explained. “And in the English language it’s not a verb but in German it is a verb, so that’s been interesting to think about.”

The sculptures are up to two feet tall and the textures are the result of experiments with Dorey’s homemade glazes. She describes her pieces’ shapes as “organic forms resembling nature and the body” while not being literal representations of anything specific.

“With some of them I’m hoping to create a bit of a dissonance between what you’re seeing and how it’s interpreted…” she said. “And I think that this cognitive dissonance that occurs can speak to the current climate of displacement from one another.”

Dorey said her new collection reflects the place in which it was made, as the colours, textures and shapes of the Island have been giving her ideas. She said “just the feeling of being calm and present in nature I think has inspired these works.”

The show includes photographs of some of those pieces in the environments that inspired them as well as images of people interacting with sculptures inspired by the casting of a hug.

“Since the onset of the pandemic I’ve become even more interested in how objects fill voids of comfort and how in this disembodied area where we’re not allowed to touch or hug I’ve been thinking about how that can provide comfort,” Dorey said.

Dorey studied psychology while at art school and her research into the scientific side of touch also shapes her work. She said ceramics is “kind of having its little heyday,” as “people are craving that connection to a material that is more immediate and reminds us of in-person connection.”

“It evokes such a tactile sensation and in my work I like to think about how someone will respond to it,” Dorey said. “Are they going to be compelled to touch it … or are they going to be disgusted? So that’s why neuroscience is really interesting, to think about what makes something compelling to touch or what makes something undesirable to touch.”

WHAT’S ON … Teresa Dorey presents Einfühlung: Feeling Into at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery, 140 Wallace St., from May 11 to 30. Can be viewed online as virtual tour starting May 15.

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