I love the smell of old books. The scent calls to mind the importance of history, a rediscovering of knowledge both old and lost, and even the very hands which turned each page in past times. During my year and a half tenure as a graduate student in Florence, the most compelling works of art I viewed were not the paintings and sculptures I had already learned about, but rather, they were the breathtaking manuscripts which I was asked to study in order to learn more about the artists themselves. The stunning calligraphy on the vellum and paper pages of Florence’s archives had a profound impact on my aesthetic. Whether the writing belonged to Michelangelo, Leonardo, Ghiberti, Domenico Veneziano, or Piero della Francesca, or an unnamed scribe, I found the calligraphies of the Renaissance Florentines to be masterpieces all of their own. While my graduate work with Syracuse University Florence was in Renaissance Art History, I majored in ceramics at Utah State University. Combining the two passions, I was able to develop an image transfer process whereby I could use the antiquated texts as a design element in my ceramics works.
I start my process with old copies or facsimiles of primarily Florentine Renaissance documents; I make detailed silkscreens out of the images, and bring them to life on each piece. The texts are often placed vertically rather than horizontally, and often transfer onto the piece in their mirror image, emphasizing the beauty and the aesthetic of the penmanship, rather than their content. My more recent endeavors with image transfer have led me to explore the lesser-known field of Water Soluble Metal Salts (WSMS) on cone 10 porcelain. The surface of porcelain when coated with a WSMS yields a smooth mat finish, which would be difficult to obtain with a conventional glaze. By high-firing my works, the historical echos of the ancient texts are preserved and brought to the attention and enjoyment of the viewer.
My first priority has always been making beautiful works of art, while still working within the parameters of functionality. I keep my coloring methods simple by only using three or four glazes in my studio at once. I know that if I have a few glazes that will always do what I expect, and a few that will be somewhat unpredictable, then I will be able to keep my pieces interesting, while still maintaining a degree of stability. The most exciting part about being a ceramic artist, is the final step in the process— firing. Even the humidity and air pressure can alter the results of a firing, and even the most meticulous of potters can still have serendipitous results come of a firing. What results then, is not an original piece born solely of the artist, but rather an original piece born of a collaboration between the artist and the elements of nature that surround us every day.