I started making pots in 1967 and have experimented in many clay mediums from high fire stoneware and slip cast dinnerware, to raku, to porcelain, to low fire terracotta sigillata and pit firing in the Southwest Native American style, to terracotta garden sculpture, and to one-of-a-kind sculptural oceanic pottery.
My entire life has been centered around the ocean – swimming, diving, coastal sailing and ocean voyaging. Most of my work life has been in ocean-related organizations invloved in scientific research and education.
The impact of two years of living on our boat and deepwater ocean sailing with my husband and two young children in the 70’s was so profound that I believe the pots I make today incorporate memory traces of that time. Seeing the enormous amount of pollution hundreds of miles from shore was so disturbing that I recognized first-hand that the health of the oceans, in fact the planet, was an alarming problem.
Later, while working at Woods Hole Oceanographic I found the opportunity I needed to express my concern. I was able to view under the microscope collected phytoplankton, also known as algae. These “bugs”, as the scientists call them, are vital to the balancing of the ocean’s ecosystem; they are indicators of environmental conditions because their populations are especially sensitive to changes in nutrient levels and water quality factors. They are the primary producers and going up the food chain, even feeding some whales. There are good and bad bugs. Good produce oxygen, bad contain destructive toxins. The warming of the ocean is not new, pollution, algae blooms, fish kill, and shellfish contamination are not new, but we need “reminders” to be aware of our responsibility for the protection of our greatest resource and ultimately, our survival.
Some of my pots look like a dinoflagellate or diatom, but mostly I’ve taken elements – gills, fins, structure, texture – and combine them into a new form that ultimately draws from my sensory experience. The building process, touching, moving the clay with my fingers and hands is what makes the connection to my experiences alive. I offer the results to the viewer in hope that in some way it touches their own familiar sensory information. Often I use only one glaze to accentuate the form, but my varied colored glazes are intended to depict the illusive quality of the ocean and the mystery of what lies beneath the surface. I apply many layers of different glazes and fire them multiple times until I get the desired result.
I hope you enjoy the show and that my pots are your “reminders”