Eight thousand feet up in the mountains of northern New Mexico sits a log cabin that my great-grandfather bought in 1934. Traveling to ‘Holy Ghost Canyon’ from western Oklahoma where I grew up and later across the plains of Kansas was always a seminal journey for me. The transitions in the landscape from arid plains to desert to sub-alpine forest are visually fascinating and have provided much stimulus and inspiration for my work both in terms of form and concept.
I realize now that those journeys carry tremendous spiritual significance in what Lucy Lippard refers to as “the restless artist’s preoccupation with travel, navigation, and mapping [that] is often an attempt to address and reconcile the mythic relationship between the daily round and the road to spiritual achievement.” Clay is earth and it is about journey and transformation. On a deeply personal level, the “mythic relationship” between daily living and the road to spiritual achievement is not mythical at all. It is something that I have to constantly strive to keep in balance.
This current body of work – the Kerygma Series – investigates this idea of physical and spiritual journey. The work is generally displayed at eye level, challenging the viewer to approach each “horizon line”, viewing changing relationships of external and internal spaces and inviting that sense of discovery and contemplation in one’s own personal journeys. On a formal/visual level, each piece is an exploration of this artist’s fascination with the forces of geology that sculpted the land formations indigenous to the desert Southwest. Each form is meant to physically resonate a strong “sense of place”.
On the conceptual level, the vocabulary of stone, rocks and clay are of particular interest and provides a vast landscape for play and artistic expression. The vessel forms serve as metaphors for an eclectic group of concepts dealing with conditions of the human spirit. The colors, textures and voids speak of sacred space, evoking a deep spirit of being. Ascending into the mountains and leaving behind the harshness of arid mesas is symbolic not only of physical respite from the “daily round,” but spiritual transformation as well. As C.S. Lewis’ protagonist in The Great Divorce explains to one seeking spiritual fulfillment, “Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains.”