I use the animal figure to explore empathy and sentiency and to challenge the perceived order and comfortable classifications of life. My figures are tricksters—both familiar and alien, corporeal and ethereal—existing at the interface of human and animal worlds. Their stoic postures and ornate, often beautiful appearances can act as facades for existential uncertainties. They oblige our instinctual reactions, yet as we begin to identify with them, we admit that their identities are perhaps not so clearly defined.
Material and process are the tangible means through which I contemplate the realm of these figures. As I build large body parts, establish gestures, and articulate fine details, each figure acquires a unique physical and emotional presence. They are subtle hybrids, inspired by the nuance and sameness of species’ behaviors and anatomies. In a process similar to taxidermy, the fired form is often covered in a ‘skin.’ Rather than animal hides, however, the skins I create are made of more unfamiliar materials, such as string, sticks, nails, or sequins. They are meticulously and lovingly applied, allowing me to both control and understand the emerging figure. This careful ornamentation produces a surface in which every feature is attended to. Moments of intimacy appear throughout the entire piece.
My work is inspired by the raw commonalities of animal and human life, and encourages us to consider them through an imaginative, otherworldly lens. The process of making is central to its meaning. My practice is an empathetic gesture; the desire to create a believable sense of life pulls me forward as a maker.
Nourishment comes in many forms-labor, vulnerability, connectedness, and desire. The vessels of clay I make are for sustenance. They are documentation of my intent and signifier of my connection to this life, both past and present. Having the hand present in my work is critical. It is through the element of touch I am able to honor honesty, vibrancy, energy, and humility.