“What we need to question is bricks, concrete, glass, our table manners, our utensils, our tools, the way we spend our time, our rhythms. To question that which seems to have ceased forever to astonish us. We live, true, we breathe, true; we walk, we go downstairs, we sit at a table in order to eat, we lie down on a bed on order to sleep. How? Where? When? Why? ― Georges Perec: L’Infra Ordinaire
I am drawn to the human tendency to physically and psychologically accumulate potent objects. Much of my work revolves around the idea that memory, with all its temporal shifts, attaches itself to the physical environment and the accumulated objects with which we surround ourselves like an ephemeral residue. Memory is a nebulous thing. I am intrigued by the amorphous chronology of remembering and its non-linear behavior in opposition to our customary human perception and experience of time. From our vantage point, the arrow of time moves in one direction, always forward. Memory loops around time, folds unto itself, speeds up and slows down and weaves around us, subtly haunting us with the slightest Proustian provocation – be it a letter stuffed away in a jean pocket, the smell of lilac, a piece of furniture in your bedroom from your mother, or a scuff on the wall. They are all conduits for memory, a way to expand our present, to weave in and out of time, regardless of tense. The objects we choose to keep and the space with which we fill them are extensions of our bodies, minds, and experiences beyond time.
I often reference modes of storage usually found within a domestic space of a home like a chest of drawers or shelving. I see this as a ordering of actual space, which could arguably be the physical manifestation of how memory is stored and retrieved in our minds. Our space is our mind. I am particularly drawn to thresholds, both literal and metaphorical, like a wall, doorway, windowpane, or the line between public and private space, permanence and impermanence, past and present, perception and reality. These all represent the state of between, boundaries, or of division between worlds – the interstice where I see memory inhabiting. I imagine the construction of the walls of our homes as embedded with our memories, with the daily accumulation and sedimentation as evidence of time past. Our tangible clothes, bowls, cutlery, and furniture along with our seemingly intangible habits, routines, and thoughts become stratified bricks composing an historical core sample of our lives. These become part of a physical, psychological, and metaphorical architecture, one that, perhaps, memory would take if it assumed the physical form.
I use clay for its conceptual and transformative properties. One of the most important techniques I use throughout my work to support my ideas is slip dipping. I mostly use clothes, clothing and certain textural qualities of cloth as my substrate to dip in porcelain slip. I utilize cloth as a reference to things that are familiar to us in our daily lives – the zig-zag of corduroy, or a zipper, lace, the loops of a knit sweater. Slip dipping invests a given material or object and creates a protective layer of clay. Still in its raw state, the fluidity of the cloth is held in suspension and becomes timeless, unmoving. The slip is easily cracked open or dissolved by water to reveal the underlying core of fabric – breakable and impermanent. In its fired state, the original material is lost, leaving a detailed hollow porcelain shell. Its thin shell is perhaps more fragile in its permanent fired-state, and more easily broken by gravity or the slightest misstep than before. For the work, this duality found in the fragility and absence or disappearance of matter is as equally crucial as the tangible ceramic material left after the firing. The hollow space is much like a memory, something without mass, but still having an indelible weight.
In new work in progress, I have begun experimenting with slumping glass cups and other functional items found in the kitchen cupboard. Slumping of glass stemware and firing cutlery contort the forms in a way that keeps them recognizable, but alters their forms in strange ways– familiar, but weird, surreal, uncanny. There is the German word unheimlich, a term that is associated with ideas of the uncanny and imparts a sense of lurking or an uncomfortable sense of haunting – just beyond familiar. In this developing work, this notion of unheimlich is becoming more central and joined with revealing what lays hidden just beneath our normal vision in our homes – the accumulation of things under our floorboards and in between our walls. In conjunction with slumping glass, other materials like plaster, cement, wax, paper, and different substrates for growing crystals offer opportunities for further transformation of everyday object.
Anything dealing with the peculiarities of time captures my attention, from geologic time, perhaps the very root of ceramics, to the greater universe. With time as the conceptual scaffolding of my work, my curiosity has lead me to, of all places, quantum physics and the theory of general relativity. The compression and stretching of time and how we experience its passage in the cosmos, is enthralling and perplexing. Human memory parallels general relativity in how time can be pushed and pulled in the gravity of a single moment of remembering.