When the pandemic began, I placed my ceramic forms on the ground atop a 12 x 12 foot piece of butchers paper. I nudged neatly arranged stacks with my foot, knocking them into precarious relations. 108 took form, teetering towards the unknown.
The week that Congressman John Lewis died and my dad had to go to a memory care facility, I placed more forms on the ground, nudging them with my feet and fingers. Our Better Angels came together as tears blurred my vision.
When my father died on Thanksgiving Day from dementia, I found myself in my studio once again, letting my hands work out how my heart felt being all broken to pieces. That day, nothing came together.
I think of what Sixo said about his love, the Thirty-Mile Woman, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. ”’She gather me, man. The pieces I am, she gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.’” That’s how I feel about art making. It gathers the pieces of me and helps me find the right order.
As an artist, I am mostly self-taught. I build my shapes through a combination of slab building and slip-casting. I use low-fire earthenware clay and slip, hand-carving each cast form to refine and sharpen the edges before firing. After bisquing several kiln-loads, I apply a cold finish of casein paint to the individual forms and then adhere them to mdf board shaped by my jigsaw. Built-in hardware floats the work an inch from the wall. The brightly painted backings mimic the play of light in our New Mexico skies.