"Safe Passage" and Safety Cones Photo: March 2020
What I make and why, has always been a call/response activity. There's some sort of stimulus--a sensation, a thought, a general confusion or distress about the state of the world--and I’m driven to respond in a way that is not just reactive, but, thoughtful. Maybe a little goofy. Hopefully beautiful. I make objects which would inhabit the world I want to live in, that would support an ideal culture of well used objects rather than consumed ones. The pots I am most drawn to make are those objects advocating for activities of engaged solitude and self-reliance such as knitting, gardening, reading, and cooking.
An unwelcome distance stretches between solitude and isolation. We can focus on the impact art and culture have on the quality of our appreciation for natural and built environments, but the interface of influence moves in both directions. The reciprocal of Oscar Wilde's quip that the London fog didn't exist before Turner is also true.
During the first lockdown, I walked over to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, just wanting to be in the neighborhood, wanting to be near my favorite pot even if I couldn't visit it, and I re-encountered Ai Weiwei’s installation “Safe Passage”. This time the masses of life jackets hanging shaggy on its columns carried a profundity well beyond the artist's possible intent and craft. The impact moved from the precision of a scalpel to that of a mushroom cloud. I had changed, the world had changed, and while the installation remained materially unchanged, still buoying in my mind the lives of Syrian and Afghanistan refugees, of all refugees, it had changed. Overnight. Absolutely.
This past year, in my own lifeboat, considering all of us in our ships of various capacities and seaworthiness, I made a lot of these sort of nautically reminiscent bowls. As common to ships where the economy of space and dual functionality are design imperatives, a mixing bowl is a serving bowl, spouts are handles, This shape easily navigates a tablescape. An oval form in and a slightly rolled edge offer the hand some security and confidence in use and clean up.
In uncertainty, as an artist, what I can offer is a coherence of values and priorities expressed in these tools and comforts for our elongated time at home and contracted social circles. Pandemic life has intensified my pre-pandemic direction. I find comfort seeing how this direction fits into past work regarding the good life, hopefully offering some grace, resourcefulness, a little absurdity, and grateful moments connection in the future.