My purpose as a ceramic artist is to create objects that are both beautiful and functional. My sense of beauty is strongly influenced by the beauty I see in nature -- in its colors and shapes, its textures and rhythms. A key aspect of nature's esthetic for me lies in its imperfections, its asymmetrically, its randomness, its unpredictability -- all qualities I endeavor to capture in my work.
A rural dweller, I am the lucky and joyful witness daily to the local landscape in northwestern Virginia, with its lush vegetation, its rolling terrain, its rocky outcroppings, its streams and woods and earthy colors. The natural beauty here offers a constant source of inspiration. Clay is itself of-the-earth, of course, and for me it is the perfect medium for creative expression. Because I am working with natural ingredients, which are inherently imperfect, my purpose is not to try to make perfect forms. I want my forms to be dynamic, interesting, alive. The shapes and textures I create out of wet clay are done as quickly and with as little conscious thought as possible. Imperfections are not only allowed, they are valued.
The earthy colors and patterns, such as those on this egg-shaped vase, are influenced by those found in nature.
Irregular marks and glaze drips on this shallow platter are examples of the expressive approach to throwing and decorating that go hand in hand with salt-firing process.
Glazes made from ash and other natural ingredients are sometimes poured and allowed to drip down areas of various forms, like water trickling over rock. When brushwork is applied, that too is done with rapid gestures rather than following some carefully planned design. And finally the vessels are fired in a salt kiln, where the sodium vapors react chemically with the silica in the clay body to form a natural glaze on exposed areas of raw clay, and where random colors and marks appear unexpectedly, as if by magic -- gifts from the kiln gods.
The entire process is in and of nature, and for whatever artistic success I have achieved I can thank nature itself for providing me with the stimulus, the materials, and the sense of esthetics that guides me as I explore the visual and tactile possibilities of my chosen medium.