This body of work speaks to the recent political and social changes that have resulted in the displacement of 1 in 7 people on the planet. This global transmigration has required 1 billion people to embark upon a journey to find a new home and has once again brought to the surface issues surrounding identity. Sculpted with a lexicon of racial features from around the globe - Asian, South American, African, European and Middle-Eastern - the identity of these figures is impossible to locate. Inspired by photographic images of refugees, the figures are deep in thought, mid-conversation, prayer or song. Unifying them is that each one is gripped by a greater force and the extreme yet enigmatic expressions emerge from a powerful constitution.
The figures are sculpted from clay - selected for its high silica content - that allows for an energized sculpting process. The figures began as simple vessel shapes and were hand-built utilizing the same coiling technique used to create the vessels of ancient Greece. The faces were loosely inspired by images of refugees from a number of news sources. Once the facial expressions were complete, I tapped into an ancient ritualistic process that I read about years ago regarding the statues of Buddha created for Japanese temples. The final act was to ceremoniously place the eyes in the figure and with this final act, the figure would become inhabited.
This body of work includes both fired and unfired clay figures. While the sculpting process is deeply controlled, one always takes risks when wood-firing clay. The artist must give in to outlying forces: atmospheric pressure, back drafts, and any sudden shifts in the weather. During the firing, in which the figures are transformed by ten days of fire and ash that wash the clay in color, an upper shelf collapsed causing a water vessel to fuse onto one figure’s shoulder. This Incan figure now became the bearer of this burden. To maintain control over the creative process, I began to explore various methods of stabilizing unfired clay. Ultimately, I applied techniques used in oil painting and discovered a process of stabilizing the clay through applications of resin and glass that give the figures the appearance of being pulled from the earth.