For nearly two decades, I have created sculptural vessels loosely influenced by ancient Chinese bronze forms, specifically, the bronze vessels of the Chinese Shang (1700 - 1000BCE) and Zhou (1045 - 221BCE) dynasties. Several motifs have been adopted from those ancient bronze works, but as a basis for the form, not simply as a decoration applied to the form.
Some of the pieces are centered on the boss motif – small rounded protruding bumps used during th Shang Dynasty that grew into forbidding spikes during the warring Zhou Dynasty. However, more common are the flanged vessels inspired by an early Chinese solution to the problem of flashing, which occurred during bronze casting. As the vessels were cast into ceramic piece molds, the molten metal flowed into the joints between the mold pieces and created flat vertical projections. Instead of removing the unwanted material, ancient artists incorporated the bronze flanges into the design. Similarly, my vessels have been completely enveloped with flanges that radiate and spiral around the form, becoming less ornamental, and instead have become the basis for the form. Direction and movement are important elements in my ceramic pieces.
More recently, my interest in ancestry and new technologies in ceramics have become the major influence in my work.
Misplaced comes from testimony of my third great grandmother, Mary Ann Bennington, trying to prove her marriage to Stephen O. Lockman after his death so she could receive the widow’s pension owed her. When she misplaced her marriage certificate, she inadvertently misplaced her identify. Misplaced is an excerpt from her pension file housed in the National Archives cut from wood with a laser.
Agatha is named for my eighth great grandmother, I do not know her birth name. She was found through the birth record of her son, George Bauer, who was born on February 7, 1669, in Zuttlingen, Heilbronn, Baden-Wurttemberg. Agatha is only one name of 256 grandmothers I have in that entire generation. The imagery for Agatha originated from vessel designs made in Maya modeling software intended to be 3D printed in ceramic. I positioned the three dimensional virtual object so that it was viewed from above or below which flattened the form into a two dimensional pattern. I used those patterns to create ceramic decals in three different processes: screen-printed enamel glazes, laser iron oxide decals, and laser printed decals in black glaze.
Elisabetha is named for one of my seventh great grandmothers. She is one of 128 grandmothers in that generation on my paternal side. Of the 128, I have identified seven names. I used the decal files created for Agatha to raster wooden press molds on a laser in order to achieve the pattern in relief on the clay surface of Elisabetha. The complexity of ancestry, when we include our maternal lines, is what inspires these pieces.
My current project is to deconstruct the image of a vessel I designed in the Maya. There are 829 slices (layers) to 3D print the vessel; I am taking the image of each slice and creating a small tile with that specific image. A composition of 829 sequential images will compose a mural that will visually depict the printing process.