When I was 8 I submitted a “draw me” drawing to a contest from the back of a matchbook. My mother sent it for me and I didn’t win. It stopped me from trying for a long time. Then, in middle school and high school, I participated in the required art classes and fell in love with the overall process of making art. I wasn’t very good at it but I was wholly enthusiastic. I loved the talents of my fellows. There were friends and compatriots, some extremely talented and some, like myself, not so much. We collaborated on projects. We brainstormed. We thought in ways we hadn't before and we found more effective ways to get the job done. My seeming lack of talent didn't stop me now. Ultimately, the joy of creativity took hold and practice developed skills. My talents revealed themselves. My ability to think independently, to make decisions based on the skills I developed in public school and college art classes, plus time and life's experiences, honed my humanity and gave me strength. I had developed resources, and even talents. My art holds my opinions, all of them. My art delights me to the very core of my being. My art holds a space for the ridiculous and frivolous, for the anguish and pain. It holds, and ultimately soothes, the savagery I feel about war, “collateral damage,” vicious cruelty in the name of GODS, and the barely relenting imbalance between women & men, peoples of different races, or different socioeconomic classes.
I am a storyteller. As a professional actor, I told other people’s stories. As a ceramic artist, I tell my own. I have been working on the same stories, in one form or another, over the course of three decades. They are stories about the beauty and horrors of humanity. Clay is an apt medium because it has elements of both strength and fragility. Clay can locate cultures within history, through archeological (carbon 14) dating, so it well reflects the themes in my art.
The story I tell is not limited to my biography, but is enriched by it. My life has been bracketed by wars. As a young child living near Pearl Harbor at the start of World War II, I was familiar with bomb shelters. My father enlisted in the military as our family evacuated Hawaii. Now, after Korea and Vietnam, I am witnessing the casualties of Iraq and Afghanistan.
It is my belief that we need to address loss and memory as a nation, on a personal level, as well as a nation, so my work invites active participation. It is meant to be touched. To hold my ceramic skulls, hearts, and bones—tangible representations of life—is to begin a dialogue about possibility, fear and joy. That is how my story is told.