Artist's Statement

A small boat load of tourists enjoyed the sunny day snorkeling in the waters off a sandy tropical peninsula in Honduras. Suddenly the blue skies darkened and a small storm appeared. People clamored back into the boat and made a hasty retreat back toward the mainland. Aboard the relatively small boat, the rain was stinging our faces. I was riding the crest of a mighty wave as a new appreciation for the form was swelling within me. This watery, life-threatening experience in the surf challenged me to express the waveform in my medium of fired clay.

But how could I express this? First I tried writing down words in a paragraph to express my experience. The result of a word description was not very satisfying to me. As a form the wave has a churning feeling. It has an unseen undertow. If we are physically in the water, we feel the water expressing itself around us. But the wave is a part of a body of water much larger than itself. It is constantly moving and reforming itself in response to experienced forces from ocean and shore. The challenge of expressing a wave in three-dimensions loomed even larger.

As an artist I made compromises for my medium such as working in smaller scale and to accept static, unmoving form. I appreciated the relationships between the form of the ocean wave and the "Twisted Earthscape" forms I worked with previously. I wanted to work the concept of a wavescape in a similar way. That is to approach the form from a center axle building outward from the middle to the extremities. As I formed my clay wave I suddenly realized that this clay wave was what might be considered yet another state of water. The clay was moving in a plastic manner because each clay particle was surrounded by water. Each flat clay platelet slides on top of each other. The plastic clay I had formed was actually a mass of water and clay. Paradoxically the water and clay wave had to experience evaporating all of its water in drying and more water chemically in the firing of the kiln.

I had a new understanding of water and ocean as what emerged from the kiln was more like a "wave skeleton" or perhaps a "wave fossil." Clearly a sailor must understand water in its various forms of rain clouds and ocean waves. With understanding he may employ both as his own personal tools. Out of a new respect I have entitled this new series of wave works "Mariner's Tool."