E. Saffronia Downing

Master of Fine Arts in Studio, Ceramics

The shovel digs into a matrix of loam, sandy soil, and yellow clay. The shovel digs a deep hole. It hits shale, composed of compressed mud– a soft sedimentary stone. A heap accrues: bits of brick, plastic particles, a bottle cap, concrete chunks, cat hair, and decomposing plants. The shovel digs into limestone bedrock.

Chicago was once full of holes– clay fields acres wide, quarries miles deep. A city composed of brick and limestone. Bricks of yellow clay full of carbonates that burn pink in the kiln. Sidewalks of limestone aggregate: Silurian skeletal sediment¬– the remains of ancient oceans.

Now, the holes are filled with rubble and debris– paved over in a history obscured by urban sprawl. That strip-mall is named Brickyard. That reservoir has dolomitic shores.