As a youth, I moved frequently, until my thirties when I inadvertently put down roots in a tiny isolated town--a windswept landscape dotted with pinyon, sage and a culture as foreign as my encounters living overseas. The former years spent in adventure, new experiences, and loneliness made even my child’s heart aware it housed a void filled with a longing for home. This early lack of grounding grew into a reflective nostalgia that informs my work to this day.
For 25 years I have understood the simple act of making dishes as a shrewd metaphor for self-reliance, personal expression, family ritual and community. Like your grandmother’s china, the plates and bowls my hands produce signify my place in creation, their physicality assembles a sense of the lineage I feel lacking. Experience and research--from traditional craft to industrial ceramics, from my children’s drawings to contemporary paintings, inspire me. These influences narrate a cultural identity I construct through observation, intent, and practice.
Like dry clay encountering the heat of a kiln, life in a remote rural community, and motherhood, has changed me. My gaze, so long turned outward toward galleries and loyal but distant customers, focused closer. My work expanded from objects to experiences created for my small town. Making bowls with the help of children, we served soup prepared from local ingredients to a community still isolated from this established trope. We gardened, hands deep in dry desert earth, and constructed a whimsical space for children to play, plant, and identify nourishment emerging from the earth. In another project, I helped a group of sound artists, clearly ‘other’ in our isolated and conservative home, who for decades had slipped into town to secretly record in an abandoned steam-age water processing tank they discovered to be a huge vessel for sound. Through this relationship, I facilitated the rocky roads of small town politics and culture in a community housing an acute indifference for art, promoting their establishment of a Center for Sonic Arts to share with the community and the world. Recently I gathered a circle of local creatives and now publish a magazine whose name begins with “Home.” Photographs paired with stories recount the complex intersection of then and now. I have begun to feel comfortable putting on the identity of ‘community artist.’
I handle my materials, whether clay or encounter, with directness, and attentiveness to detail. In my pots, soft clay and simple forms meet painterly glaze and sketched decals, juxtaposing soft and hard edges, loose and formal lines. This contrast creates a tension between mass and delicacy, refinement and physicality, that I associate with elements of my nature. The back of a platter, the bottom of the foot, contain as much, or more, deliberation as the exposed surfaces. Hidden areas build layers of information, not readily available, that must be discovered over time through acts more intimate than merely gazing. With each project, every phase of the process builds on the previous; one project leads to the next, to some extent akin to antiquity progressing to the modern age.
I see my work coming full circle. Accepting I might never make that perfectly expensive gallery object that would simplify life as a studio artist, I return to the potters’ wheel content to make cups, bowls and plates. Something as straightforward as a cup can be profound. Something simple and useful functions also as a record it its maker, an object of contemplation, of consumption, and an accessory to the rituals of both serving and dining. I find I am satisfied to make “only” dishes, for now. I trust they will sustain me through their making and as they find their own homes to settle into, moving toward that inevitable day they become shards strewn across a desert landscape, waiting to be discovered.