Artist's Statement of Method and Philosophy

A friend told me recently that it was helpful for her to know how an artwork is created and how the artist works and thinks. That led me to consider what I have to say about my artwork. When one looks at my sculpture I hope one sees strength, mystery, sensuousness, spiritual energy and more. How these constructions in modeled clay can stir such responses in me- and others- is a mystery to me, but I can say something about my methods and way of thinking.

I have always been intuitive, reactive and spontaneous. I loveimprovisation, expression and the power of chance and serendipity. This may not seem obvious in large pieces that must be carefully crafted over weeks or months. Here is how it works. When I began the first pieces in this body of work many years ago they were purely improvisational. I would begin each piece with a flat slab of clay that I cut into a shape that would be the bottom of the sculpture. I usually had a vague idea of the proportions I wanted. This general notion set the theme within which I worked. In the manner of free jazz I would consider the form I had and mentally project what the possibilities might be for structure, expression and coherence. I worked on 4-6 pieces at a time adding a fat coil per day, which I pinched into a 3/4" section. When the sculptures were leather hard, they were scraped to refine profiles and edges and to provide textural contrast. The building always progressed from bottom to top with the hardening clay giving no opportunity for revision or restructuring.

Eventually I discovered that preplanning sculptures would lead to new forms. This loaded much of the spontaneity into the planning phase. I first did thumbnail sketches followed by small modeled clay maquettes… followed by maquettes carved from stiff little blocks of clay… followed by my current favorite, maquettes carved from pieces hammered from big, thick irregular chunks of nearly dry clay. In all cases quick brainstorming activity leads to hundreds of sketches that are culled for the rare idea that deserves to grow into a sculpture. Of the sculptures begun, nearly half are rejected and destroyed before they are completed.

Sculpture is a connection between the heart and mind of one creator to the heart and mind of others by way of the eye and the hand. I create in clay because it suits me. It is a humble, common, formless substance that freezes the energy of shaping forces and is transformed by the energy of fire. Through clay I search for my place in a vast, mysterious, interconnected and sacred nature displayed in forms of plant, animal, geologic and un-nameable spirit.


15.5 x 5 x 4"

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