John Aaron ’71

Photo credit: Ray Powers

Early this summer, I was commissioned to create this tribute to the Emanuel Nine of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. It is a memorial to the people who lost their lives when a self professed white supremacist gunned them down during their Bible Study at the Church on the evening of June 17,  2015. This piece was created in the ceramics studio at Thacher, thanks to Mr. Mulligan, Mr. Haggard, Ms. Hooker, Dr. Land, Mr. and Mrs. Swift, Aaron Boydston and Dawn Marley, who not only arranged for this project to happen, but provided me with housing in the Anacapa House and on campus as a Visiting Scholar. The sculpture took more than 500 hours. I created the piece, standing in the very spot where I learned welding from Mr. Barber in the 60’s. James Danisch was my ceramics instructor then; he encouraged me to pursue the art of clay. It definitely takes a Village.

Emanuel AME Church: Tribute to the Emanuel Nine is a glazed porcelain relief sculpture 5’4” x 3’8” x 6” whose details include the embossed names of the Fallen, renditions of the floral tributes and messages and pictorial accuracy of this historic building. It was commissioned by the Low Country Freedom Festival for the Church; and its hand delivery was originally intended for early September to Charleston, a meticulous plan waylayed by a storm named Irma. We were two days from departure when we realized our journey would have us arriving just in time to meet the 5 foot downtown storm surge. Its delivery and unveiling is in the process of being rescheduled. It is on public display at the Firestick Pottery, Ojai, through October 15, after which it is headed east to its soon-to-be future home.

Read the article in Santa Barbara Independent here

John Aaron CdeP 1971

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