Born in Beacon, NY, I grew up in the Hudson Valley region of upstate New York. Slab-building is my "principal " method of expression. Pinch-forming is what I do to quiet my mind, slab building is what I do to think through ideas, to philosophize concretely. I have studied educational theory and policy, art education, theology, sculpture and ceramics. After a circuitous and fortuitous journey, I am an artist-teacher at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, MA.
"Nature makes no aesthetic mistakes," is a guiding principle of my pinch-formed vessels. For the viewer, the work “looks like leaves,” “tentacles,” “a cobra’s head,” and other organic protuberances and organic patterns, and indeed I have adopted those labels for my repertoire of pinching techniques. In my process and thinking the work has long been about growth as it is a process that keeps me present. I attend to details in the development of high relief surfaces, how the pieces engage with space (think of a fallen conifer cone) and much attention is given to transitions in the texture. I continually reach toward a flow in my practice and of the surface, texture and form inspired by nature. Currently I'm cultivating a black clay aesthetic.
Ultimately, I am interested in balance, equanimity and equality. The clay body/hand struggles against being boxed in. The work mediates the mystery of continuation in overwhelming odds. My work primarily raises questions about the possibility of ongoing equanimity in the face of a failing infrastructure and are formally, metaphorically and often literally on the edge. The present does not need to be sought after for it always asserts its fleeting imperceptible hegemonic presence. The effort therefore must be, and is often, toward not being grounded but groundless. I think about my sculpture as icons in the Byzantine sense of carrying information or transporting one to an idea, of representing the intangible and writing with visual information.
Presently I’m working on a series called, “Knot Stories.” This work is very fresh and what I’m currently able to say about it is that it is a critique of language. It is concerned with figuration and with the very structures of language that allow that figuration to take place. It employs the formal qualities of the concurrent series, Cell Personae, for they share passionate critique, but this series is moving in an alternative direction. As is usual in my work I’m looking to our use of language which is rooted in Protestant Reformation thinking about material shapes and living images and the rhetoric of prejudice against ideas as shapes. Some questions that compel me are, what does it mean to redact a text? And what changes about an idea when it is spoken versus when it is written? And what does it mean to materialize an idea, as in the words of Cornell West, “justice is what love looks like in the public sphere.”
Though “[Sic]” is not the very first Knot Story I have made it is the first after the initial two smaller in scale, made three years ago. I now understand the work a little better. “[Sic]” is the first of my new thinking about the series. Sic, “thus”, “just as”, is a Latin term I became familiar with in the footnotes of scholarly texts. It is conventionally inserted after a particular quoted word or text in brackets to mean “this was intentionally written this way,” and is not a mistake. It is often used when quoting colloquialisms or dialects. I chose to do this one first because it is a kind of blame-gaming use of language and is deeply rooted in ideas about etiquette and correctness. Another intriguing textual device is the ideal of redaction which has come to mean censored text as opposed to a document that has been inventively edited.
This renewed series has given me scope to work more with the formal qualities of this “re-scripting the basic vocabulary of ceramics (slab construction and coils)”. Knot Stories are hanging wall sculptures and I find it thrilling that they are in conversation with painting, fiber works and text. These pieces recuperate a former philosophical aesthetic balance in my work. I have liberty to share ideas as expressions and even catharsis, to philosophize concretely, but also to make something beautiful along the lines of the broad attraction found in nature.
Early on, years ago, this genre of work became the process through which I explore specific subject matter. This is what I call philosophizing concretely. This means my slab-built forms are for the most part more planned, measured and intentional. Formally, balance, the paradox of inside and outside, often architectural structural references and materiality all serve as metaphors in this work. Ultimately, I am interested in the development of interiority on a continuum with exteriority. Equilibrium and balance appear where it seems none can be attained. Philosophically, aesthetically my work primarily critiques traditions, broadly defined, where they impede the possibility of ongoing equanimity. I present equanimity as compositional balance. The slab-built work has mirrored those parts of society that impact my life historically, personally and daily impede my solemnity.
Presently I’m working on a project called Knot Stories. This work is very fresh. What I’m currently able to say about it is that it is a critique of language. It is concerned with figuration and with the very structures of language that allow that figuration to take place. This work follows closely in the wake, or should I say it is emerging out of my installation, The Impact of Incarceration on Black Lives. This installation comprises 25 cells that dramatize various facets of the prison industrial system, such as profiling, recidivism, and probation. Though clearly pertinent, and I’m not satiated with the latter subject as inspiration, this renewed series has given me scope to work more with the formal qualities of this “re-scripting the basic vocabulary of ceramics, slab construction and coils” (Adamson). Knot Stories are hanging wall sculptures and I find it thrilling that they are in conversation with painting, fiber works and text. Overall, this sort of work is personally emotionally challenging for me. I did not use this ceramic genre as an expression for these concerns until 2015. I was engaged in social justice in other processes that quieted the brain chatter. Yet, going forward I am pleased that my practices are back to a former balance and that I have more opportunities to share my ideas, as expressions and even catharsis, in slab form, the “principal” way I have expressed myself in clay over the years.