The work in this exhibition continues the dialog between my artistic expression and my interest in the cultivated landscape, the natural world as experienced in the uncultivated “wild” setting, genealogy, our spiritual links with the past and an awareness of the feminine spiritual consciousness as it can be expressed visually.
I have worked with clay the longest and maintain a deep commitment to this medium. The craft tradition of functional pottery is most often the basis of the work I create but function does not totally dictate the direction of the pieces. The work included in this exhibit began with the wall pieces as a way to connect the work on the walls with the work set on pedestals. I also envision these organic pieces at home in the garden as well as in an interior space. Several of them have graced my garden this past summer.
My intention in this body of work was to develop strong textural surfaces and pattern repetition suggesting organic surfaces found in nature. These uneven surfaces contain the flow of the glaze and create interesting variations in color.
The digital images are from a series of works developed from photos I have taken of old buildings that have fallen into disrepair and are no longer used. Some have historical value others will, no doubt, eventually be torn down or simply disappear into the landscape. Often these structures are overgrown with weeds, vines and small trees and are in the process of becoming buried in the landscape. My idea was to “digitally build” images of small, intimate structures using the colors and textures of grasses, leaves, flowers, seed pods and parts of actual buildings as well as scanned drawings, painted surfaces and found objects. The buildings are then placed in a suitable setting where they would feel at home and be truly integrated into the landscape. Often in these images the borders are developed as part of the design and reflect my love of Persian miniature paintings where the borders and picture plane divisions are compositionally important.
The glass autonomous panels of women are the most personal of the work shown. They, to me, connect with something primal, a lost mythology or the rediscovering of parts of a story I used to know. The idea first emerges from something I have seen or experienced that finds a special place in my memory. It is from these experiences that the story or myth seems to emerge. The shapes, colors, textures and symbolic elements in the design gradually illuminate the essence of the women depicted in the panel. Although not intended to be religious, these images do have a spiritual quality. They are, for me, related to Russian icons and Latin American retablos. This is not unintentional, since I love both of these forms of spiritual expression and find their intimate scale, richness of color and texture, use of symbols and the fact that they were often placed in the home as a spiritual reminder an inspiration for my work.
The relationship between glass and light makes glass the perfect medium for the images in the panels. The construction process necessitates consideration of the glass both lit from the front and the back. A panel can look quite different as the lighting changes and the transmitted light illuminates the space in which it resides. This variation in the perception of the finished panel and of the space around it lends an additional spiritual element to the work. Abbot Suger (c1081-1151) refers to this “light of divine inspiration” in his writings on the qualities of transmitted light from stained glass windows in the cathedral of Saint Denis.
The five “Glass Houses” suggest many of the same ideas used in the digital images and contain objects that are thematically connected with my work in clay, fused glass as well as in the copper foiled panels.
The “Yellow Series” of fused glass and copper foiled panels are, of course, about the cultivated and natural landscape filled with the color and warmth of the spring and summer seasons.
A more playful, experimental use of warm glass techniques in my work is represented in the glass jewelry, which is a new direction for my work. I began fusing glass a number of years ago when there were limited materials available and each effort required lots of experimentation and trial and error, often producing less than desirable results unless, of course, one had extensive, and expensive equipment available, which I did not have. More recently a wide variety of compatible materials and affordable equipment have become commercially available. During my sabbatical I was engaged in a lot of research, attended a workshop, and did considerable experimentation with a wide variety of materials. I feel that I am really just beginning to develop these possibilities and enjoy the immediacy of working with glass on a smaller scale.