Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Adam Davis

Reader 2

T. Kim-Trang Tran

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2019 Alexi J Butts


Language, Memory, Place is an investigation into clay’s therapeutic and tactile qualities. When combined, these attributes make clay an effective tool for priming spoken communication, increasing connectivity and serving as a tangible means of accessing and physically grounding abstract memories of home.

Conducted in France throughout the summer of 2019, my research set out to engage French speakers in a reflective dialogue on what it means to transform empty spaces into ones filled with feeling and meaning of home. In addition to verbal conversation, I simultaneously directed individuals of different ages, origins and living in seven different cities through an artistic exchange using clay, asking them to create a form symbolizing their feeling of home. To conclude, each interviewee was asked to finish the phrase: “To feel home means...” (Se sentir chez soi ça veut dire…)

Now documented in my book Langue, Mémoire, Lieu, these brief cross-cultural exchanges resulted in the connection of stories, emotions and symbols proving clay’s potential as a facilitator for memories based on the sense of touch. Upon returning to Scripps, I have furthered my investigations on the topic through a ceramic sculpture series titled Building on Disappearance. Each element of the series was created through my quick responsive process as I listened back to the eighteen interviews with clay in hand. Collectively, the gestural sculptures function as response objects and speak to the more ambiguous and evolving qualities of what it means to have and search for a sense of home.