Shigematsu’s relationship with the clay medium is exceptionally organic: her artistic process follows the tenet that the ceramic form is “found” through its making; she uses weight and gravity of wet clay to guide her hand as she builds the form without any prior planning. Her process of making brings attention to the materiality of ceramics and highlights the tactile quality of ceramic production via a meditative, sculpting process involving clay coiling, hand-pinching, and other non-wheel thrown techniques. Her glazes are also intentional and unconventional. She uses a pale, pastel color palette in her sculptures, which goes against an aesthetic convention in Japanese pottery that works of art in clay should reflect the visual properties that clay provides. In other words, she rebels against the notion that “clay should only look like clay.” Shigematsu has indeed emerged as a radical artist who has established a unique and influential artistic practice.
Jomon Spiral, made in 2015, is a conceptually rich piece that consolidates her influences. In this piece, Ayumi reflects on the hand-building clay production founded during the Jomon Era (13,000 BC-500 BC). Jomon, or cord-patterned pottery, is a method of hand-building clay used by women in the Jomon Era before wheel-thrown pottery traditions were established in Japan. Through this formally dynamic piece, Shigematsu highlights the matriarchal history of earthenware production, invoking presence for female voices in a historically male-saturated Japanese pottery tradition.