The ancient quality of the clay vessel appeals to me. When I am rolling, coiling and pinching, I know that I am connected to every other human throughout history that has touched wet clay and then fired it so that it lasts for millennia. It astounds me that archeologists have found shards of pottery from all over the world, some as old as 18,000 years. In their original form, these shards had uses that were tied to basic human needs like food (as in cookery, utensils and containers) and shelter (as in bricks and tiles). There is something special about the objects we interact with and touch daily. They become imbued with our human presence and retain a residue of that interaction.
I believe handmade objects retain that same residue. Vessels in particular interest me for their ability to “hold” memory and experience. In my work, I play with the line between the functional and the sculptural, paying homage to pottery’s history of functionality, while at the same time shrugging it off. For instance, in “Thirst,” I explicitly reference the functional vessel. However the opening is eliminated, frustrating the desire to drink, and suggesting that the useless and the ritualistic are inextricably connected.
My ceramic objects serve as visual metaphors for the human body. The organic shapes suggest internal organs, and the designs function as tattoos, telling the story of my hand across the surface of the clay. Just as the body’s scars serve as reminders of experience, so do the cracks and imperfections in my objects record the process of making and firing. Firing “high” (about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) in a reductive atmosphere leads to unexpected outcomes in the final work, an aspect of the process that I find tantalizing. The process becomes a collaboration between my intentions, the willingness of the clay, and the heat of the kiln. There is always some stress and anxiety upon seeing the newly fired work, because surprises, both good and bad, are a part of the deal. I don’t see this loss of control as failure, but more as practice. My objects serve as a visual document of this fluid and dynamic process.