I remember the starched, sterile, cold white walls of the hospital. Goose bumps swirl across my skin and reach towards the cool cotton folds of my hospital gown. My heart races the tick of the clock. I remember: pen and ink, the scratch of a tip across a surface as my Mom’s hand draws worlds across the waxed paper protecting me from the true surfaces of exam tables. There is my family. There is our avocado tree. There is our yard. There are dogs, cats, flowers, rivers, rocks and bees. There are blue and black ink rainbows sprouting from puffy clouds over squirrels having picnics with ladybugs. Watching her, I learn how to draw.
Today, my heart stills and my hairs stand on end at the nape of my neck when I see someone drawing. The same can be said of watching others use their hands in that arcing rhythmic quality involved in the act of making, molding, rubbing, and painting on things. The feeling is only heightened if what they are making makes sound.
I remember arriving early to my 1st grade classroom. Mom has to be at work and my teacher is willing to watch me, and work with me. I decorate our bulletin boards, and place gold tin stars across charts. She is an artist. She shows me a new way to draw from sight by flipping images upside down. In class, she teaches us all the basics of oil painting with four basic colors: brown, ochre, black and white.
There are better memories, but the stronger ones are the most powerful.
I remember fear the most: the sound of unfamiliar footsteps tracing all sides of our house as I wait for my Mom to come home, the fear of Doctors on routine visits, and the unbearable length of time they make us wait. I remember being called into the office in 3rd grade. I submitted a drawing for the Earth Day contest. My teacher thinks I appropriated my mother’s hand and claimed her work as my own, to win. I remember: sewing pajamas with the sewing machine, in secret; being grounded: for being too young to turn on the stove to make us soup, for spilling a five gallon bucket of white house-paint on our dark carpet—as I valiantly try to make, recreate, or be of use.
Watching my mother, I learn how to cook.
Today, my materials and process go off in all directions. I began my life in the studio with clay, interested in extrusion, and combining extruded parts into large intricate sculptural works. Eventually I branched into even larger coil and slab works—that never seemed to work out for me. I rely heavily on ceramic technology, using any machine in the studio to see an idea into being. In the past few years, I have come to experiment with, and rely heavily on molds—mainly because I have an affinity for plaster. My “affinity” for plaster is a love of the cool, white rapidity of change in its textural nature. It is a fascinating material in its own right as a medium, and I appreciate its ability to function on a more technical level as a tool to help me create more rapidly and efficiently with clay, and slip. This is to say that there is a very real tactile reward in working with my chosen materials.
I am not too easily inspired. I know what I admire. I know what to let in.
My choices, and influences feed my process. My process is rhythmic, and intuitive. When I find resonance in a look, gesture, melody, form, an idea or expression--it stems into an urge or inclination to develop the result into a more concrete body or form. Inspiration usually leads to a simplistic drawing, most likely on whatever is at hand. In some instances the idea is recorded as a word or phrase, before any sort of image, line, or form ensues. When I address the figure--my inspiration is narrative, and likely derived from poetry—be it read, or written.
My methodology involves planning and preparing for the more technical aspects of creation. On a basic level this is the acquisition of materials, and a proper site for making. If I am sculpting I begin solid and hollow out a center. If I am building, I tend to dig fervently into clay, and build up, nipping and seaming as necessary. When I approach molds, I slow down. This is a response to fear. This fear is the result of a deep and long-standing relationship that my molds tend to maintain with careless mistakes I have made along the way. In a way this all comes back to rhythm.
Success comes predominantly from external affirmation. If I have made something that somebody loves--it is an instant success. Personal success is measured by a separate rubric. Personal success involves the ability to see something through to a desirable completion. In terms of my current fascination with geometry, and crystalline forms—this translates to a perpetual effort to make what I want to make at a pace that I find engaging. This explains why I might attempt the same essential molds, in various manifestations: multiple times. There are levels of success. I am happy with my process, but see, in each manifestation--room to expand upon the concept originally desired.
Failure is the inability to love my own creation. My reaction to failure involves the un-salvageable destruction of it, so that it may only exist in an entirely new form, should someone rise to that challenge and reconstitute it.
Success is a smile that feels like a glow.
My highest ambition for my work is that it finds resonance in the masses. I see art as a means of connecting in a way that cannot be filled by any other method. The ability to see an object into being in such a way that it transmits the seductive essence of composition and has affect, is a gift. I wish to reach a point of ceramic expertise that will provide a personal palette of color and the ability to formally express my conceptual (desires <not the best word). I wish to be gifted.
My highest ambition for myself is the ability to perpetually make in a secure and comfortable fashion.
I see my developing body of work, and my ethics as contemporary in that they take from the institutionalized traditions that made me and reconstitute themselves—through me, now. This is a way of describing that I wouldn't define myself as Cubist, or Fluxist, nor isolate myself or my methodology to any singular, canonized school, but rather take my appreciation for certain aspects of the collective movements that have passed and remix them beyond any flat, linear, identifiable focal point. Another Contemporary approach involves the history and technical craft intrinsic to ceramics, and the subtle incorporation of contemporary media. For example, Le Fantome is the most recent culmination of a modular, 4-panel wall-sculpture concept. It is composed of well over 200 slip-cast porcelain polyhedrons mounted on a wall, by a wooden base. The original exhibition framed a work of Art, interacting with the light of its environment. In documenting its existence, I was able to capture through the lens a singular work’s ability to play with and affect its viewer. The work itself is borne from a desire to make the fragility and mass of porcelain defy gravity; through the lens it is reduced to a safe 2-dimensional series of views woven through the 4th dimensional passage of time. This recent piece is, in essence, a visual parody of another famous work of porcelain art. Where Duchamp sought a ready-made shift of focus from physical craft to conceptual interpretation, The Phantom is my culmination of a series of steps, and missteps towards marrying the two.
My work is an extension of my self. It challenges me to draw from my personal experience a need that may only be filled by hands-on craft. It challenges the backdrop of ceramics, history and contemporary ideology--in that it is a woman's work influenced by a 2,000-year+ continuum of male classification and validation. Whether I am serving a turkey sized Southern Ice woman on a platter, or mounting a bare, ominous, fractured, textural, porcelain “painting” on a wall; I am challenging contemporary patriarchal notions of art. This is meant to be an inclusive act in that I am taking what my canonized forefathers, mentors, parents and teachers have taught me how to see and do, and using my own hands to document, interact with, and trace my own existence. I see my early work as a more blatant caricature sketch of the sentiments being buried within my approach, and my process as I mature as a woman, and a craftsman.