Yes, Artist Statements as a plural. The thing is I find myself writing a new, fresh statement with each new, fresh body of work. The thought processes, the writing and the intent evolve right along with the work. To assign one artist statement to all my work would over time render my words obsolete, dead and defunct, and as with any relationship in which one of the two parties stops functioning and renewing, the dead writing would have a negative impact on my work until it, too, died.
Since my attempts at blogging have met varying degrees of un-success, I’ve come to realize that the statements I write are a more honest way to access my rolling and evolving thoughts. So I’ll offer up all my artist statements, dated for context and as they relate to the work at the time that I wrote them.
2018: Mediteations at Blackfish Gallery, Portland OR
“A teapot is a machine that makes tea.” – John Neely
“You have to learn when it’s appropriate to sacrifice a little bit of function for the sake of form.” – Dan Hammett
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” – CS Lewis
Tea has a lengthy, rich, ubiquitous history, and its gentle presence in today’s world carries a weight and import as subtle and complex as its wide range of flavours. I am no master of tea. I am just another potter with a daily morning ritual of steeping and drinking tea as I wake up, transition from the previous night’s dreams into the reality of the day ahead. I can no more forego this ritual than I can forego the sleep that came before or the activity that comes after. Considering the growing tumult in the world, the drastic news we find ourselves waking up to every morning, my ritual of tea in the morning is my one reliable, comfortable moment of peace and contemplation on any given day. It is my time, my own, to spend alone while I do a well-considered nothing.
In other news, I’m totally turning into my mother.
2016: Vary Plenty at Blackfish Gallery, Portland OR
I spend my best time making dishes and vessels and objects for my own house, for my own use or visual stimulus. Pots which aid, enrich and reflect upon my lifestyle, especially the part centered around food: from growing and raising to gathering and harvesting to preserving and cooking to eating and sharing. Some of these objects are specifically utilitarian, the pickling crocks and tea sets, and others, the bottles, offer a visual response to the squash and other full, engorged vegetables I like to grow. Then come the baskets, which occupy a grey area between the useful and the visual. It all culminates into a sense of the nourishment and plenty that comes from raising and gathering and eating food, a sense of the full experience of food.
Since sharing that sense of plenty is as important as partaking in it, I have decided to donate 10% of all the sales from this body of work to Sisters of the Road.
2014: BasketCase at Blackfish Gallery, Portland OR
The short of it is fairly simple: Chicks, Veggies and Home.
My interest in making basket forms arose out of a long period of not living the lifestyle that they iconically represent for me. Whether you use a basket to gather food, to display seasonal flowers, or to store precious or mundane things, your use of it indicates habit, ritual, cycle, settling, permanence and home. At the end of a fourteen-year period of frequent moves and upheavals, of living in places I could never bring myself to call “home,” I got to thinking about, well, baskets.
In making these baskets, I employ imagery that directly references both the female body and, in a related way, gourds, nuts and other engorged fruits and vegetables. The food obsession rose out of the relatively recent discovery that I love growing my own food, which is part of that larger idea of home. The feminine forms rose initially from an interesting personal reflection: I appreciate, love and feel an awareness for my body more now, at 33, than I did ten years ago, when I was young and hot and bulletproof.
The Babe Eat Yer Veggies at Home gig celebrates the fullness and intrigue of an all but enclosed volume, as well as a sensual, feminine sense of elegance and mystery. It speaks to our life stories, as they are written on our skin, in our muscles, our bones, our eyes. It embraces us chicks in all our variety, including our age, weight, scars, freckles, tattoos, moles, stretch marks, grey hairs, veiny hands, zits, wrinkles and birth marks. It’s about reveling in all those things that make us women, and beautiful, and alive, and human.
2012, Portland OR
With the paradigm shift that came from finishing graduate school and moving to a new city, I felt the pull (and the invitation) to make equally radical shifts in my work, to pursue something at which I wasn’t proficient, and to find what my creative voice would come up with if I pulled it out of its comfort bubble and shoved it down a different avenue. In short, I stopped making large-scale gas-fired sculpture and instead started making pots and wood firing them. It has been and continues to be a massive change of pace, a task harder than balls, a steep learning curve, and a hell of a good time.
The first thing that became abundantly clear was that my pots were going to differ massively from my sculpture – not that I didn’t try to draw a lazy straight line from A to B in the beginning.
What emerges is something of a balancing act: with my sculpture I pursue themes of play and mystery expressed via a language derived from jigsaw puzzles. They examine literal puzzles, life puzzles, cosmic bigger-than-us puzzles. My pots, on the other hand, are more grounded in something visceral, in touch and ergonomics, in the human body and all its curves, awkwardness, sexiness, intimacy, off-kilter quirkiness, sassiness and fun.
2011: Divide, MFA Thesis Exhibition, Utah State University
As human beings we have an innate hunger for meaning and, not coincidentally, an interesting ability to assimilate patterns, to recognize working systems. For all our ability to reason and assimilate, however, concrete answers to our questions of meaning and our hunger for understanding are elusive, vague and often lacking.
In my work I pursue a two-fold exploration. On the one hand I want to express my fascination with that riddle of the human condition, of our need for meaning and our parallel inability to pinpoint it concretely. On the other hand I am fascinated with the fact that our ability to assimilate and reason is not limited to a weighty existential crisis: we also celebrate that ability when we play games – we can figure things out for fun, and because we like to. To keep grounded in that sense and celebration of play, I base my forms on the contours of unorthodox jigsaw puzzle pieces. I then incorporate elements of scale, topography, surface, arrangement and imagery that highlight that original contour while simultaneously lifting it wholly out of its original context. The enigmatic form that results is intended to pose an open-ended question to the viewer concerning the underlying meaning to an implied organization.
An immediate formal encounter demonstrates a visual relationship among the parts, a pattern to the surface treatments and an intention with the overall contours. Through that encounter, I want to stimulate in the viewer the desire to seek the source of a visually evident system. By not proffering concrete answers about that source, I intend to encourage the viewer to bring to his encounter elements from his own experience and perspective, which will play a significant part in any conclusions he may draw. On a broader scale, this work is intended to call to the viewer’s attention the more mysterious aspects of the human experience, aspects in which we can take a measure of joy without necessarily fully understanding them.
Mandy fell over backwards into the ceramics lap in 2002, during her senior year of college at University of Dallas. It’s not really all that surprising. She hits her head an average of five times a day; it was only a matter of time before clay came calling with its squishy sledge hammer. Since that fateful day, she has completed an MA at University of Dallas in 2008 and an MFA at Utah State University in 2011. She currently slings her mud in Portland, Oregon, where she exhibits regularly at Blackfish Gallery.
Resume (for all the hard facts and what’s Really going on)