These pieces have literally been years in the making, but I think I’m finally rounding a corner with them and wanted to share my progress. I had some success with my initial resin pours but still had a few things to tweak. You’ll notice that there’s a lot of micro bubbles in the resin, I found out that’s due to it curing too cold and possibly some air escaping from the pores of the ceramic parts. The edges of the molds aren’t as even as I’d hoped since the silicone molds had squished a bit in shipping, so I need to come up with a better frame solution. I also knew that my first experiments with led lights were really exciting and I needed to pursue that further even if it meant putting on my novice electricians hat. Some steps forward and some steps sideways, more problems to solve, and way more parts to make.
I decided to create stainless steel frames and pour directly into them so that I didn’t need to pop them out of a mold later. I wanted these frames to be versatile for both wall hanging and as suspended pieces, so I added a fender washer as the hanger to create a modern, industrial look. A metal fabricator neighbor welded them together for me and then I started working on the lighting components.
I’ve learned way more than I ever wanted to about led lighting, but in the end, I found that getting some waterproof strip lighting, a few connectors and being creative, I could get the frames lit on the insides and eventually embedded in the resin. I had small holes drilled in the sides of the frames for the wires to exit from which will ultimately connect to a power source, which for now is 9v battery to make sure that my connections actually work.
I’m ~almost~ ready to start pouring my (fingers crossed) first batch of keepers. My next steps are to coat the ceramic parts in a thin layer of resin, to seal them from leaking any air bubbles. To waterproof the end connections of my led lights and adhere them in place to the inner edges of the frames. And then I need to set everything up in a warm, dust free area to start the pouring, layering and curing of the resin, one eighth of an inch at a time. Step by step… stay tuned!
I’m happy to (finally!) share with you all that I will be making a large scale site specific installation at the Price Sculpture Forest on Whidbey Island in Washington State this year. I’ve been going back and forth with the owners for awhile now, but we’ve settled on a concept and a location in the park that we both think will be perfect for a powerful piece. Installation is set for the summer but I’ll be sharing my progress on this project with you as I go.
Inspired by the fungus of the Pacific North West, I’ll be creating a 12′ wide circular installation that will comprise of hundreds of ceramic forms. The shapes are based on shelf fungus forms and will be arranged to create a radial pattern reminiscent of the gills and spore patterns of mushrooms. The pieces will be staked into the ground with steel rod so that they float off the ground cover giving them an ethereal quality. Here is a photoshopped mock-up of my plans:
Conceptually, mushrooms speak of the cycle of life and death, since mycelium begins breaking down the dead waste in nature and the fruits of the mycelium (the mushroom) are the new growth that comes from it. The spores that are dropped from the mushroom gills, spread the growth and the cycle continues. Mycelium are some of the largest living organisms on earth stretching underground over miles of terrain creating networks of communication throughout the soil. This network makes them a symbol of growth through connection and how we are all connected to each other and to the systems and structures of nature.
The Price Sculpture Forest is 16.3 acres of preserved land with two walking loops through the property and a series of nature inspired sculptures placed throughout the forest. Visitors can use an app for a self-guided tour that will share with them each of the artworks, the artists thoughts and process on each piece. The forest is open everyday and free to visit, although, donations are always welcome.
It’s probably been a very long time since you experienced First Fridays in Santa Cruz, but now you can see my art in person at Radius Gallery this Friday March 5th from 6-9pm. Wear your mask, stay 6′ apart and be prepared to wait your turn to go into the exhibit, but it’s totally worth it! Enjoy!
Radius Gallery is located at the Tannery Arts Center in Studio #127 | 1050 River Street / Santa Cruz, CA / 95060
About the exhibit: 450 Pieces is an exhibition in partnership with Arts Council Santa Cruz, Radius Gallery, R. Blitzer Gallery, and Curated By The Sea. The show features over 450 pieces of original artwork by artist throughout Santa Cruz County. Last year in the height of the pandemic, the Arts Council created a new program called the Visual Arts Network to direct buyers and collectors to artists. Fast forward to today and we three galleries jumped on an opportunity to get the art in-house.
Going big with the Rock Candy Series was a challenge, there was a lot of frustration, a lot of broken pieces and a lot of learning. Sometimes as an artist, you just need to take on the challenge and ‘make the thing’ even if you don’t know where it’s going to lead. Eventually, over the course of this year, I was able to make a whole pile of successful extra large rocks. But now what?
I stared at this pile in my studio for a few weeks, and it kind of stared back at me. I thought that I would be inspired to make more, create different combinations of colors and play with compositions, but I wasn’t. Sometimes, ideas lead to the end of a road and that’s ok. I’m really glad that I challenged myself with going big, I really glad that I was successful, and I’m really glad that all of the final pieces I made have already found a happy home. And as anti-climatic as it feels, I’m really glad to be moving onto other things that inspire me more.
I love being surrounded by Kristen’s bold brushstrokes of trees, filtered light and flowing water in my own art collection and I’ve been in awe as I’ve watched her work mature over the past 20+ years that I’ve known her. Full disclosure, she’s my amazing sister-in-law, and I’ve been so lucky to have another professional artist in the family; we bounce ideas off each other, critique each other and support each other. But besides all that she is truly talented and passionate about preserving nature so of course I wanted to share her work with you.
Here’s what she has to say about her concepts of painting nature, “When I paint places that have been preserved, like national parks and trails, people say, ‘Oh, I’ve been there, that’s so pretty.” Now, I am taking this a step further. To challenge people and myself with questions like, “Is the forest beautiful after it burns? Are forest fires the enemy or a long-banished friend?” Currently I am learning from scientists, organizations, and tribal members about the world we live in. I am challenging my own notions of land use and forest management. I know that this new style of collaboration, diving into the unknown waters of knowledge and coming up with voices that need lifting, is more important to me than simply creating beauty for pleasure’s sake.”
Want to see her work in person? A selection of paintings from The Oregon Coast series is currently on display at the Grants Pass Museum of Art or scroll down for a video where she takes about the process of making this series.
For those of you that have spent a lot of time in your gardens during this past year of pandemic lock downs, this upcoming online only show will give you examples of some great artists who are making art just for your garden! There will be links to their websites and online shops if you see something that’s perfect for your space.
If you’ve followed along over the past year while I attempted to make some extra large Rock Candy pieces, you’ll know that it was a challenge, but eventually I succeeded. I was able to make a selection of pieces that had no cracks or flaws, but there was a whole pile of pieces that didn’t make the cut. They’ve hung around the studio for long enough now, so it was time to get rid of them. So what do I do with all the unsuccessful pieces?
I hate garbage, I am always looking for a way to reuse, upcycle, repurpose or recycle everything and fired clay is no exception. While it could just go into the general landfill, I discovered that many refuse sites will accept ceramics in a separate pile where you would also put toilets, sinks and tiles. They grind up all the ceramics material and use it as an aggregate for compacting roads around the site or elsewhere. So if you have a bunch of broken ceramics from your studio be sure to check out if your local refuse center will separate it for use and you’ll give your not-so-great experiments another life.
The Bone Series is focused on the remains of a form. The pieces imply what is left after the flesh is gone or pieces that need to be reassembled to understand what once was. These sculptures take their forms from the skeletal structures of radiolarians and the movements of jellyfish. They are made with very thin pieces of nearly translucent porcelain and some with high temperature wire that give movement and breathe life into the skeletal structures.
Fun Facts that inspire my work:
About Jellyfish: Jellyfish have been a part of the marine ecosystem for over 500 million years and they have no plan to depart. They love warm waters and can handle low oxygen environments, which means that rising ocean temperatures and higher acidification levels the ocean is becoming a place where jellyfish thrive. Overfishing of jellyfish predators like tuna and swordfish adds to their population and this makes some scientistic think that jellyfish just might take over the world… or at least the ocean. Anybody want to go for a swim?
About Radiolarians: Radiolarians are not well understood but are thought to hold clues to the evolution of life on Earth, as well as be an insight into changing climate conditions. They absorb carbon from the atmosphere when alive and trap it as they sink to the deep sea floor when they die. They have existed for at least 550 million years and are found in all the world’s oceans at all depths but many populations are declining due to warming temperatures.