How is your body an ecology that crosses the borders of time and place? How does it hold the stories of your ancestors, both spiritual and biological, while being its own present self? And how does the form and frailty of your body set the stage for what may become? Our bodies are living archives, holding our present, past and futures in harmony, vessels rooted in our known and unknown lineages. The ceramic vessels in this series were created as investigations of these thoughts.
This series began as an iteration of Bodies of Bois Mallet. The ceramic planting vessels I created for this process were bisqued–a firing state that has transformed clay into ceramics, but is not ‘finished’ in that it is still porous and more fragile than it could be. Over the year that I nurtured these living and dying self portraits, I was intrigued by how the vessel itself changed texture, color, and became host to its own forms of life. The vessels visually spoke of both bone and skin, and so I decided to make a new series of speculative planting vessels that would take their shape from my shape.
I began by molding slabs of clay on various parts of my body. As I began to rip, mend and heal them to take my shape, I began to consider how our bodies themselves are living archives.
As I unfurled my skin from the shape of itself, now resting in clay, I saw reflections of my lineages, both lived and inherited. As I brought the offerings of my body-shape into a form that could hold itself whole, I considered how our bodies are also landscapes that presage our evolving futures.
In installation, I placed the sculptures on totemic pedestals including a column and bed of soil, a chair like one from my grandmother’s house, a selection of my children’s school books completed during the pandemic, a valet stand with a hand-me-down dress from my mother, and driftwood collected by my children. I offered these sculptures as sites for potential growth and active reflection.
By listening to the material as I worked with it, the vessels became sculptural sites rather than literal planting vessels. Again, by listening to the forms that emerged, I am currently experimenting with taking these forms back out into natural environments, as well as adding colorant to the clay bodies and exploring different surface qualities, such as metallic glazes.