Monday, April 27, 2009

Small Work Series 2009

There's an intimacy to small work that's very exciting for me. My ideas have always come to me life sized... but the smallwork series is inspiring me to make things I've never thought of before. Just prior to my getting started on work for the Small Works in the Foothills show this spring, I was finishing up my "Mother & Child" sculpture, which took more than two months to complete, so working small was a very welcome change for lots of reasons.

I knew that working small would allow me to complete many more works in a shorter span of time, but I had no idea how interestingly expressive it would be for me.

The Steins... I began making the steins for the Small Works in the Foothills show at As if Studios this spring. These are the first things that came to mind for a small work series. The Steins range from simple handbuilt forms with smooth surfaces, to intricately carved surfaces. Some are food safe, others are strictly sculptural, depending on the glaze used.

Some friends of mine, Matt & Michelle Margulies, are opening a pub in Nevada City, Mateo's Public... Michelle asked if I'd help come up with some local artist shows to do there. It got me thinking about how the sculptural steins would be a perfect way to embrace their business and their patrons. I think it would be so much fun to create sculptural steins especially for them... maybe even of them!

Opening... The "Opening" series continues in small format... this form has always been incredibly powerful for me. I keep making them, as each one seems to be inhabited with various parts of me.

Broken Woman... The "Broken Woman" series began in 2008. My ideas almost always come to me life-sized, but as I move into this new realm of small work, I find she too follows me there. For me she symbolizes the broken-ness that so many of us feel... the broken-ness of the feminine, that I, in making art, seek healing forms and images that foster acknowledgement, growth, embodiment.

Spirit Vessels... The "Spirit" series came to me while I was working small. I really was imagining animal spirits, but the human figure just comes out of my hands unless I am very specific from the onset. I'll get to the animals one of these days.

Statues & Vessels coming together

In the Mother & Child piece, I am finally bringing together the parts and pieces of the figure that I so love to sculpt, all into one piece... and submitting to it being a closed, rather than open. I think though, that because I have abstracted some parts of the figure, exaggerating its lengths and curves, it doesn't feel provincial or at all statue-like to me.

"Broken Woman" Sereis

Somewhere along the way, the "Opening" series began to morph... Extending the opening down the front of the figure and across the chakra points, This series symbolizes the ways in which we as women, and the ways that the feminine spirit is in so many ways broken. I so want the strength of women to become truly feminine, rather than model strength that is inherently masculine. I'm not sure there even is a model for this... but I know I'm looking for it. With this series I am able to express the raw, broken-ness of a woman determined to remain "open".

"Musical Mind", Ceramic Sculpture, 2008

For years I created figurative works without heads. The open "vessel-ness" of them was too important to the work for me to close them, and I did not want them to read as statues, which seemed too provincial for the feeling I was going for. When I first began to make heads, I had them stand alone, though still left their tops open, maintaining their importance as vessels.

"Opening" Series...

I began this series of figurative vessels a few years ago, and just keep coming back to them. I love making them... even if I'm not sure I need another one in my life, there's something very special about the process of making them for me. The vessel-ness of these works holds a lot of importance for me. I imagine, during the process of creating them, I am able to inhabit their emptiness with what they mean to me... imagining my own body as a vessel, filled with all that I am, and all that I long to be.

Many of these pieces are smoked, using a large barrel filled with pine needles and various other combustibles. I teach this process in a few of my sculpture classes. These "Barrel Firings" are fun community events shared by students and residents at Asif Studios in the spring and fall.