Throughout my career as a potter, my work has evolved through a number of series and themes. Some of them took years to play out, whereas some of them were fairly brief. To create work, I rely on playful discovery, letting curiosity lead the way.
My saggar and pit fired work seeks to perfect the very essence of making ceramics by focusing on just clay, water, and fire. The saggar firing process relies on the skill and experience I have developed over the years to create an environment of combustible materials that use the fire as a painter might use a brush.
Unexpectedly, a new series originated with a 2013 trip to Italy. Like many travelers, I was fascinated by Italy’s history, art, landscape, and architecture, but I was also intrigued by things such as colors found in the earth, tufa stone, and pottery forms by anonymous artisans. After visiting the studios of two Italian ceramic artists, I began to experiment with iron oxide from that region, using it to create an antique surface decoration when combined with my existing firing techniques. I remembered a bowl with human figures walking on the rim that I had seen in Florence and that led to my adding modern, technology-addicted figures to more recent pieces.
For the first time in my career, I began working on two series at the same time with the iTalianate series as a side project to my saggar fired work. By 2018, after creating more than 30 iTalianate pieces, I decided it was time to share the series with the outside world. Four pieces from this series have been exhibited exclusively at RAM’s Wustum Museum and none of the work has been for sale. My iTalianate Series integrates two very different inspirations—ancient objects that might have been part of an archaeological dig and figures that represent the new reality of over-connected humans living in the digital age. The name “iTalianate” blends a word that means Italian in appearance or character with the lowercase “i” common to a certain technology company’s products.
The RAM Artist Fellowship Exhibition at Wustum will be the first time my iTalianate Series has been shown together. When viewers enter the gallery, their first impression may be that they are seeing ancient artifacts, but if they take the time to look carefully, they will discover that the work has a deeper meaning—namely, technology’s effect on us.