Working with the guidance of artist, Deborah Bridges, who creates phenomenal figurative sculptures in clay, I have taken up the endeavor to bring the images from my paintings into 3-d.
After many experiments with different clay bodies and mineral test tiles, I am creating these images through the process of pit firing. I dug a small pit into one of our raised beds for easy access. Then I built an enclosed space around this pit with fire bricks, stacking them to keep heat inside but a bit of air to breathe. I collected various materials from our surrounding forests for fuel. I waited for cold rainy days to set-in and prepared the pit along with the bisque clay figurines. I added different layers of combustibles under, around, and over each sculpture to encourage variations in the burn process. The fire was kindled. It burned all day, smoking nicely after I placed a metal cover over the top. It smoked throughout the night into the wee morning hours when only heat from the lower part of the pit still felt warm. Then carefully each figure was removed. Aww, the thrill of it all! Such magic!
Inspiration comes in different ways. Recently I joined a group of artists, all women, to support our art endeavors and experiences. From the conversations and my studies of ancient artworks, I found I was drawn to the small stone statues of voluptuous women, well-known as “Venus”. Soon thereafter, visions of this ancient beauty flooded my thoughts…I had to paint her.
I prepared the canvas, mixed my paints and began to work swept up in the ancestral past. Incorporated into the painting are symbols that not only were found in ancient cave etchings, but cross into roots of ancient written languages such as Egyptian, Phoenician, and Hebraic pictographs. Embedded into this painting are the meanings given by scholars today. The ancient relics of Venus are mostly regarded as fertility goddesses. Yet, women had a more valuable standing where, “Earth brings forth life, and Earth nourishes life, and so is the analogous powers of woman…the mother too of our second birth, our birth as spiritual entities.”¹ And this work conveys that…
Woman — nurtures, sustains and maintains tender constant support and protection
Staff — teacher, guide, protection, moving forward (feminine)
Ox — power, strength, leadership (masculine). Together these symbolize authority. “EL” is the Aleph, the first, and Lamed, the staff.
Position of figure — like the Hebraic “tsade” meaning side. It is the trail, path or journey the individual takes.
¹Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine by Joseph Campbell