Clay Sculpture: Moving from Function to Form
I've called myself a potter since I started working with clay but always have done work that fell outside the pottery tradition. . . . My work was predominantly stoneware objects based on functional forms. . . . The useless was a form I unconsciously reserved for a class to which I did not belong.
When I began to need a new form, I turned to sculpture. I wanted to concentrate more on the materiality of the work. . . . For me the useless object, cut off from day-to-day life by the rule that it must not have a function, floats free in time and lets me look backward. It has become a channel to explore the past and my shifting relationship with, and position in, my family. It also connects me with a strain of imagery that feels like the raw material of dreams. I seem able to bring that imagery into view without the narrative structure of dreaming.
When working on images of women, I feel for ways to open my understanding of myself and other women as gendered beings. Clothing, hair, and family relationships have been starting points for this work. . . . In the last two years I have begun to depict men as more than the "other" to women. When I recognized that my images of men showed my fears but none of their reality, I began to make different images. These figures are closer to individuals than characters from scary stories. . . . Images of groups are another continuing thread in my work. I feel my identity shift as I act with others, and this process is fascinating to me. Our life as social beings is complex and full of excitement, joy, and horror. And group pieces give me the opportunity to work with interesting forms not confined to the single figure.
I have found that small-scale work is what I like to do best. I try to be conscious, while I work, of the possibilities and limits of the scale I have chosen.
Eighteen years ago I first began working with clay. The malleable, organic qualities of the material drew me in, and the possibility of creating something intimate, lasting, and useful fascinated me. From the first moment I was hooked. . . . I create my pottery on my potter's wheel, or from slabs. When a form is complete, I paint a thin layer of colored clay over the original clay, and carve through the layers to achieve a block print-like design. Some I layer with colored glaze patterns. Much of the work is fired in my wood-fueled kiln.
I focus mainly on functional items -- vases, mugs, bowls, and serving pieces -- and also have a line of Judaica including mezuzahs and seder plates. Recently I have been exploring more narrative sculptural work, drawing inspiration from human and natural relationships, stories, and poems. Aesthetic influences include block prints, early American quilts, plants, insects and animals, and my New England surroundings.
My goal as an artist is a simple one: I think the objects that we use in our daily lives should be beautiful and meaningful. I strive to integrate function and beauty into my work. My hope is that my pottery will enrich people's celebrations and that, through daily use, make their lives a little richer.
Copyright 2008, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont