For me, sculpting the human form is exploring the human condition. Bodies communicate much more than what we feel in the moment, shown in how we are sitting, standing or moving. I believe there is a more profound message, that our physical selves bear an enduring imprint of life experience and emotional history. The body is testimony — what we have gone through, who we are and even what we may become.
To put this oneness of form and emotional expression into my clay, I work deeply from my own inner senses of body and feeling. By going deeply inside, I tap sources beneath what my intellectual mind thinks it understands. The figures that emerge through my hands often have more honesty and nuance than any initial expectations I may have had.
Once shaped, my figures need equally evocative surfaces. After trying many different techniques, I now rely on the ancient method of pit-firing. I bury my pieces in sawdust and other flammables in a trench in the ground. When the fire burns and smolders down around the figures, their ceramic “skins” take on rich earthy creams, grays, browns and blacks. These surfaces seem to come from within the pieces, co-expressing the emotion of my forms.
What has come forth are figures that embody the themes that are most important to me — fighting against injustice, finding strength in vulnerability, and growing toward liberation. When other people find personal resonance in this work, I believe that I have been able to capture some part of our shared human experience.