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Artist: Lael Chmelyk


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Lael Chmelyk is a ceramic and fiber artist living in Calgary, Alberta. Raised in Dawson Creek, Lael began making from an early age, joining a long line of obsessive craftsmen. Starting ceramic classes at the age of fourteen, she went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics with Distinction from The Alberta University of Arts in 2020. In 2021 she received a project grant from Canada Council for the Arts to develop a range of soda fired work to lower the environmental impact of the work. Her work focuses on themes surrounding identity, agency over our bodies, chronic illness and the legacies we leave behind. In the last year, her solo exhibition “Haptic Rituals” explored living with endometriosis and the choice to remain childfree through ceramic vessels and quilts.


Artist Statement 2022

Craft objects can act as a conjugate for ideas and concepts, and through their function, those ideas become a part of the everyday domestic experience. My functional soda fired pots have contrasting surfaces that create tension between geometry and organic patterns. Areas of quiet and overwhelm in the decoration invite touch and offer the user a moment of pause and intimate investigation. Referencing botany, I look to understand my place in the world’s classifications. I attempt to catch the user’s attention, to render them in the present through chance or rituals. The intent is to give one the chance to question the place of plants in beauty - but also the place of the environment in one’s values.
By using a soda kiln, I can allow for the kiln and its unexpected nature to share agency over the work. This also echoes the balance between control and chaos that we, as a society, attempt to force on our environment. My work illustrates this balance through moments of chance and instances of control in a duet with the kiln. This balance is central to the work and allows for the ornate surfaces to exist on the forms without overwhelming the experience.
In my fiber practice, I explore ideas of femininity and ideas of otherhood through quilting and natural dyeing. By translating concepts of the female body as a vessel through a matrilineal craft, I can question the status quo of what a woman’s life should look like. Quilting practices are historically centered around familial functions, but within that history, I question whether we motherhood and womanhood are inextricably linked.

2020 BFA with Distinction (Ceramics + Fiber) Alberta University of Arts, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

2020, 2021 & 2023 Medalta International Artists in Residence Flex Program, Medicine Hat, Alberta

2023 Haptic Rituals, Discovery Gallery, Alberta Craft Council, Edmonton, Alberta
2021 Artist Spotlight, Alberta Craft Council, Calgary, Alberta

2023 Above Board Ceramics Tableware Exhibition, www.Aboveboardceramics.com
2022 Beyond the Demo: Instructor Show, Workshop Studios, Calgary, Alberta
2022 Above Board Ceramics Tableware Exhibition, www.Aboveboardceramics.com
2022 Mug Madness, Saltstone Ceramics, Seattle, Washington, USA
2021 Canadian Exhibition – The Ceramic Congress, artspaces.kunstmatrix.com
2021 Coming Up Next, Alberta Craft Council, Discovery Gallery, Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta
2021 A Passion for Clay: Exhibition of Exceptional Alberta Ceramics, Blue Rock Gallery, Black Diamond, Alberta
2020 AUArts Grad Show: Shaping the Future, Illingworth Kerr Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
2019 Coming Up Next, Alberta Craft Council, Discovery Gallery, Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta
2019 Pitcher Perfect, Good Earth Pottery, Bellingham, Washington, USA
2019 Make and Do: Cup Exhibition, www.makeanddo.com
2019 Nutcracker Exhibition, Alberta Ballet, Southern Jubilee Auditorium, Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta
2019 Peep Show, AUArts, Gallery 371, Calgary, Alberta
2019 Like a Rock: Ceramics Department Show, AUArts, Main Mall, Calgary, Alberta
2018 Unfolding: An Exhibition ACAD Ceramics and Jewelry Students, Guildhall, Calgary, Alberta
2018 the space which is in between and neither before nor after, Blank Page Studios, Calgary, Alberta
2018 ‘1000 Miles Apart’ Show, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2018 Ceramics Department Show, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta

2022 Project Grant, ‘Quilting Exhibition Development’, Calgary Arts Development, Calgary, Alberta
2021 Research and Creation Grant, ‘Greener Soda Project’, Canada Council for the Arts, Ottawa, Ontario
2020 AUArts Scholarship for Research Projects, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2020 Medalta Residency Award, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2020 Suzanne Agopsowics Volunteer Scholarship, AUArts Students Association, Calgary, Alberta
2019 Anderson Ranch Workshop Scholarship, Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Snowmass Village, Colorado, USA
2019 Rondi Lee Johnson Memorial Community Scholarship, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2019 AUArts Student Association Third Year Legacy Scholarship, Alberta University of Arts, Calgary, ALBERTA
2019 Continuing Arts Association Travel Grant, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2018 ‘Exploring the Narrative’ Clay Workshop Scholarship, Medalta International Residency, Medicine Hat, ALBERTA
2018 President’s Cup Competition Winner, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2018 Dr. J. C. Sproule Memorial Scholarship, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta

2018-2023 Wheel Throwing Instructor, Workshop Studios, Calgary, Alberta
2021-2023 Ceramics Instructor, North Mount Pleasant and Wildflower Arts Centers, Calgary, Alberta
2020-2021 Wheel Throwing Instructor, Medalta International Residency, Medicine Hat, Alberta
2019-2020 Ceramic Technician, Workshop Studios, Calgary, Alberta
2018-2019 Teatime Talks Coordinator, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta
2018 ‘1000 Miles Apart’ Conference Silent Auction Coordinator, Fundraising towards Luke Lindoe Ceramics Endowment, AUArts, Calgary, Alberta

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