For me, sculpting the human form is exploring the human condition. Bodies communicate much more than the feeling of moment, as shown in our manner of sitting, standing or moving. I believe in a more profound message, which is that our physical selves bear an enduring imprint of our life experiences 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 mental expectation 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 human forms that embody the themes most important to me — fighting against injustice, finding strength in vulnerability, and growing toward liberation. If you find personal resonance in this work, then we have shared something profound — that we and all people are one human family.
In contrast to my figurative work, my protest pieces have strong, overt messages. They come out of my anger at how our country and world allow terrible problems to continue unresolved: species loss, income inequality, racism, modern slavery, refugee crises, caging children on the border, and generally failing to preserve our world as a fit place for those who come after us. I believe in the power of art to change the world, and we need change.