Last year, I was walking
through Audubon Park in New Orleans when I came around a bend
in the river and there, surprise! Look! A group of about 200
egrets flocked to one small area of the bayou. The air was full
of their self-involved energy: they fished, rested, preened and
called out that throaty egret croak. In the middle of this urban,
busy, bustling city, the egrets prevailed… It
was a stolen moment, a frozen moment, a moment in which we all
might pause, quiet ourselves and bear witness.
I am interested in these
still moments in our lives, these times of pause when the day's
requirements cease and we are momentarily frozen. We are taken
out of ourselves: my neighbor
stops in the middle of the empty street and turns to catch the
wind on his face… a student is suddenly still before
the exuberance of wide-eyed understanding… my own hesitation
when I hear the first bird of the morning.
Wake Robin, written by the
late 19th century naturalist John Burroughs, is a book of essays
documenting his long walks though the wilds of New York State
and the birds that he found there. His
beautiful prose, written recordings of his discoveries, came to
be an inspiration for the pottery in this exhibition, as did the
drawings from John James Audubon's passionate watercolors. I find
myself drawn to these watercolors and by drawing them on my pottery,
I can look at them closely, again and again. This collection pays
homage to the great beauty of these watercolors and to the birds
themselves. These pots create flocks in my kitchen cupboards, clusters
on shelves in my living room and coveys stacked by the sink.
I am, at heart, a potter.
Over the years I have come to understand the world through pottery.
Pottery is different than sculpture, photography and painting:
it comes into our homes, and into our lives as both useful and
decorative objects. The more we use a cup, the more we reach
for it and draw it into our day. It
becomes part of the story of our lives. Nothing touches our lips
as often as a cup. Few objects in our homes are as intimate and
relied upon as the dishes that we eat from for our needed nourishment.
The audio element of this
exhibition is a curious addition to displaying pottery. I wanted
the user to have a moment’s
pause when they select this cup. The birds’ songs cause a
pause in which we dwell or that transports us to a different place
or time. In addition, this is a salute to the great authors of
Magical Realism: If we drink from these cups, perhaps we can sing
like these birds.
This exhibition would not
have been possible with out tremendous help and influence from
others. I would like to thank: The insightful art historian,
Chip Sheffield for bringing John Burroughs to my attention; Forrest
Snyder for inspiration and instruction to make this idea a reality;
Brandon Carmo and Luke Peart, exceptional woodworkers who so
confidently figured out the mechanics and making of the shelving
units; Alyssa Grummert and Dulcie Miller, my fantastic, tireless,
thoughtful studio assistants; and Allegany Meadows and Sam Harvey
for their patience and devotion to the growing understanding
and support of the ceramic arts.