Wild Pigment Project: Hosanna White

November 3, 2022
Hosanna White at Form & Concept
Hosanna White, Her Land and Relatives, 2022.

Hosanna White's artwork appears in Wild Pigment Project, a group exhibition that's on view at form & concept through early December. The international show (and the project that inspired it) promotes ecological balance and regenerative economies through a passion for wild pigments, their places of origin, and their cultural histories. Read an interview between Wild Pigment Project curator Tilke Elkins and White here, and check out more words from the artist below.



In February of 2022, I had the opportunity to work with a community of Muskogee people who are building an ecovillage on their original homelands. Most of their ancestors were removed from their land and lifeways in the 1830s. They were forced to travel over 700 miles to Indian country in present-day Oklahoma, while others resisted federal mandate and were pushed south into so-called Florida. This story is a common one inflicted on numerous tribes, but how often do non-Indigenous people stop to consider how unbelievably violent this is? Though American culture continues to erase these histories from its story, this was not that long ago and the impacts of this have not been repaired.


Nevertheless, this Muskogee community holds tightly to what remains of their traditional knowledge and speaks their language with each other. They have devoted their lives to returning to their homelands and building a physical and spiritual community for the next generation. During the short time I was with them, they introduced me to their ancestors in the clay, an iron-rich orange earth with mica flakes glittering throughout. We mixed large batches of this clay with quartz sand and straw and then plastered the walls of their timber framed structure. This was just one building among an incredible array of naturally-built infrastructure that will support many Muskogee people to live together in the ways they determine right for themselves.


As a mineral lover and pigment forager, I was enchanted by these soils we smeared on the walls. However, based on my knowledge of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s concept of the “honorable harvest,” I knew that if I wanted to collect this pigment to bring home with me, I’d better ask permission. The regard with which my new friends held the clay felt antidotal to the woes of a sick society that displaces its pain upon the land and so carelessly damages its vitality. For the Muskogee, the clay is their ancestors, it is their home, it is of them, and because this connection is real it should not knowingly be violated or mistreated.


I learned from the Muskogee that for me to take some soil away (no matter how little), ceremony and time would be required. It was not “just dirt” and it was not insignificant. My plane was leaving the next day, so we did not have time and I was not granted permission, but I did receive something equally as precious from my interactions with the clay, and that was the value of these reflections. I painted Her Land with clays and mineral paints gathered from the diverse ecological and Native territories of Oregon around where I live. This experience has changed the way I regard these local pigments too.



Over the last seven years, as I have apprenticed the technique of open firing my pottery on the ground, I have lost countless vessels to the shock of the fire. Even though more pottery has survived the crucible, it is easy to dwell on what is lost. Every time I make something, pour myself into a sculpture and then place it in the fire, I know there is a possibility it could break. My heart feels it like heartbreak, but I will not stop loving this craft because of that. The practice is teaching me surrender and acceptance over and over again.


Maybe that is what it takes to become acquainted with the life force and land through the mediums of my craft. I am forming a new relationship with the clay under my feet, the paws of brush rabbit, the bellies of dragonflies, the hooves of deer, and the roots of the conifers.  This clay that forms this vessel is not just  placeless matter without kin or connection. I am learning who it is, how to mold with it and how to introduce it to fire. These lessons are hard and take time, but I will never stop loving the journey.


Artist Bio

Hosanna is a pigment forager, potter, and earth artist of European-American descent living on Kalapuya land in the foothills of the Cascades in Western Oregon. She collects and hand processes small batches of soil and stone pigments for paint making. She also sculpts with foraged clays of the Pacific Northwest and fires her pottery using traditional pit fire methods. She is dedicated to slow crafts that teach patience, cultivate gratitude, and help her shed expectations of consumption and convenience culture.


Hosanna White at Form & Concept

Hosanna White, Relatives, 2022, Earthenware pot painted with local clay paints, 5.5 x 6 in with raw pigments of Oregon set.

About the author

Jordan Eddy

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