I began working with clay in high school when my father - always a maker - built me a potters’ wheel. I loved the tactile experience of digging my fingers into the clay, the pounding and squeezing of it, the heavy, dense physicality of the material in my hands. I don’t remember what I made then, just the experience itself.
All these years later, after decades of working with paper, wood, paint, collage, and metal, I have circled back to the material I fell in love with as a child. Not only is the stuff as tantalizing as ever, but my familiarity with other media now informs both the conceptual and technical aspects of my work with clay.
Unlike many ceramic artists, the starting point for my sculptural vessels and objects is not the 3D form but the 2D universe of pattern and color. I am, I admit, obsessed with pattern. By designing multi-layered geometric patterns on a computer, then converting them into stencils, I can slip print (a process of printing using liquid clay) my brightly colored pattern ideas on flat sheets of clay. These printed clay sheets are then formed into three dimensional objects whose shapes frequently and subtly reference the original pattern. As the object emerges, the original pattern takes on volume, movement, tactile complexity and ultimately a material presence distinct from yet in conversation with its graphic origin. My intention is to create objects with presence, that invite, sometimes demand, the full attention of the viewer.
Another aspect of my artistic process is the ongoing investigation of my materials. As I am envisioning, then creating a new vessel, I am always exploring the possibilities: How far can I stretch this flat sheet of clay into the round? How thin can I make these walls before they collapse? How much detail is possible when printing clay on clay? This flirtation with the limits of possibility is one of the things that keeps my work in the studio fresh and exciting.
My influences are many, including Islamic architecture, Japanese wagara, American quilt design and Venetian blown glass. Artists and designers who have influenced my work include Antoni Gaudi, William Morris, Owen Jones, Kohei Kyomori, Lalla Essaydi, Tony Duquette, Yayoi Kusama, and Lino Tagliapietra.
In our era, the unique object has been replaced by mass production and, more recently, by digital versions of the material world. I hope that my work offers an opportunity to reconsider the fundamental human activity of hand craftsmanship and the power of the singular objects.