Feeling my form in the turning of the year...
During the pandemic, I started to make my own pigments out of materials on our land. I began with plants in the Spring but as the blossoms fell and the leaves crumbled, I turned to soil and rock. My attention to the ground I walked on everyday shifted, as I joined in conversation with the minerals and deposits under foot. I picked up little pieces of ocher and made marks on denser grey rocks. I rolled soil between my fingers. I felt the iron in the soil vibrating with the iron in my blood.
After intuitive mark making with these inks, I started to form mountains. These mountain images would build from the ground up and they had a quality of water as well as solid ground. The mountain became a guiding symbol for me, an intimacy with the mountain I live on and the mountain in archetypal time.
This exploration unfurled naturally into a desire to hold earth in bigger pieces and so I started working with clay. The primal feel of mud, dirty hands, forms emerging from dirt. I felt my own physicality more intimately as I pounded, squished, and formed with my hands. Over the last six months, I have been experimenting with how to incorporate local rocks and clays into my sculptural ceramic creations.
Last summer, on my annual pilgrimage to my family home on the island of Vinalhaven in Maine, a place where my grandparents lived, a place where I commune with my deceased father, I collected a bucket of sea mud from the bay below the house at low tide. This mud is a deep blue-black color, and can suck boots right off your feet. Encased in the mud is salt, fragments of shells, and microscopic sea creatures.
I coat my dried ceramic forms with a thin coat of the sea mud, sometimes in combination with a handmade wood ash glaze, and place them in the fire, often a kiln, sometimes a wood fire. The blue black crumbly mud transforms into a rich semi-matte maroon color. A glaze from the sea.
This natural unfolding has been my experience of art, moving fluidly between mediums, guiding symbols, abstract or representational. In my classes, I try to create containers where participants can feel this approach to art making.
Where do images come from? Where do we come from? What is behind all life forms and the desire to create?
In my meditation practice, there is an understanding that form and emptiness make up everything and need each other. Emptiness being the the primal flow of energy before form. Egyptian mythology has a similar cosmology of the primeval ocean of Nun where all forms arise from. On my first week long silent meditation retreat there was an elation at feeling this expansive, 'solid' space in the silence, behind all the anxiety and turmoil. In a way the emptiness was the bedrock.
But we live as bodies on a physical planet too. And the intimacy with this ground, these ancient rocks is equally as important to feel a sense of belonging, connection and acceptance in our complexity as bodies.
Join me finding finding your flow in the company of others.
Offerings in Winter 2023: