Over 13,000 years ago, Glacial Lake Missoula flooded approximately forty times every fifty years over a 2,000 year period. Each time the glacial dam broke, the floods carried sediments westward. Along Nine Mile Road are layers of clay sediments that provided the geological history of these floods. These layers of clay are called rhythmites, referring to layers of strata that built up in rhythmic patterns. The floods dropped an iron rich clay while the shorelines washed up a more pure white clay. These strata provided evidence of the number of floods and time between each breaking of the dam.
I have used these two clays mixed with manufactured minerals and wood ash to develop multiple clay bodies, slips, and glazes that I fire in wood kilns. The rhythm of making work for large anagama firings, causes me to work in strides. The information gained from one firing cannot be implemented for months before another firing takes place. Because of these cycles, my making comes in rhythmic patterns. Each firing brings me closer to my goals while providing more questions for my curious mind.
The brushwork on my pieces is erratic patterns that flow from my subconscious. Reflecting on the glacial floods that carved rivers and ravines across the landscape, these meandering paths are abstractly mimicked through the process of creating compositions that are simultaneously strong but elegant. I hope the viewer/user of my work will reflect on the briefness of our existence along with the liberating power to live life to its fullest.
“In the depths of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”
THE MASS OF SOLITUDE
Weathering, metamorphosis, heat, and tectonics are forces that form and transform the earth. Over millennia, these methods of abrasion construct captivating structures out of ubiquitous materials. I reference erratic rock architecture by using the same minerals and modes of construction to create new metamorphic rocks. By stripping clay down to its basic nature, I exploit the rawness of the material.
The dramatic craggy surfaces hold a dignified presence of solemnity. When observing these objects, one can see how the undulations and irregularities are what give them fortitude, encouraging contemplation in the viewer; a time set aside to recognize the earnestness of life in comparison to the gravity of death. I have often found myself in this capacity when surrounded by the vastness of desert landscapes. The massiveness of the rock formations combined with the expansiveness of the horizon, humbles me to a contemplative state. In these times I have been able to resolve who I am and what is important to me. I replicate these experiences by inducing solemnity in the individual interacting with my work.
I am inherently drawn to flaws because they are relatable. Restraint from gesture shows a lack of freedom and acceptance. The wise can recognize their flaw and still accept themselves as works-in-progress. This is why my objects have irregular contours and are slightly misshapen. These objects become timeless in what they communicate. They pass barriers of language and culture. Their form exudes an aura of rawness, fortitude, contemplation, and solitude. My pieces have protruding impurities, undulating edges, asymmetrical contours, torn textures, process marks, and fissures. These aspects express fortitude. It shows a quiet confidence. To be, is to accept ones self. This is the same confidence as the landscapes that inspire me.
The landscapes I reference exist with a dignified presence; they simply are. They hold themselves without being blown by the trends of humanity. Humanity is moved by the presence of the mountains. The mountains are moved by eons of time passing by, while standing with patience. Allowing the winds to blow and the rain to fall, these formations react one detail at a time. They hold equality to all who interact with them, having no prejudice.
I am overcome with solemnity and contemplation when in the desert landscape. I mimic the erratic rock architecture of the Southwest. This can bring the one interacting with my work to a similar state of self-reflection. They meditate on life’s questions of existence. One can find solace through the objects that I create. They have beauty within their own imperfections.
THE POWER OF TRADITIONS
As an introvert, I create objects so the user develops a personal relationship with me vicariously through my work. I create vessels that accept the rawness of the material and the gesture of my hand. These objects embrace varied levels of utility, holding a quiet presence.
Many artists try to emerge with “never before seen ideas.” This breeds self-aggrandizement rather than depth of feeling or emotion. It is naive to believe modern mankind is different from our ancestors, or that archaic modes of thought are irrelevant to our society. It is through traditions that we are nourished spiritually and emotionally. To believe we can disregard centuries of research is narrow-minded. To progress our field, we must embrace what came before us. Our greatest forms of success will reflect our predecessors.