desert inspiration

As I’ve started to get back into playing with clay, I’m paying closer attention to the natural world that I’m currently living in. The plants, birds, bugs and bones I come across here are inspirational in texture, color combinations and form. I love how quietly persistent the desert is, even in the toughest of environments, there is life abounding if you look closely. It will be interesting to see how I use these forms and textures translated into clay. I also had to include a photo of the most spectacular double rainbow I’ve ever seen which happened just as the sun rose over the mountains and within minutes it was gone.

Here’s just a few images of what’s inspiring me here…


the outside scoop: 7 | the dirt | Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture

from our family to yours…

hope you get to eat all the goodies, enjoy the all the company and are grateful for the adventure.

wishing you all a happy thanksgiving

Inspiration at the aquarium

It’s not hard to get inspired about nature, the ocean and all its amazing creatures when you visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I’ve been many times but hadn’t been there in many years and it was such a good reminder of was an incredible resource it is and it’s less than an hour away from my studio.

While the swaying kelp forests and swirling anchovy tanks are reliably hypnotic, they just opened their newest exhibition Into the Deep, which showcases the strangest of creatures from the depths of the ocean floor. The Japanese Spider Crabs were so gigantic, they almost looked fake and the Basket Starfish is otherworldly. But really, I can’t stop watching this video I took of a bloody belly comb jelly, it’s only red when spotlit since the red light spectrum is gone at that depth allowing it to hide in plain site….nature is the best artist.

Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery Visit at UCSC

I went up to Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery this week with curator Tauna Coulson to see the gallery space and toss around ideas for my upcoming exhibition there this fall. It’s a beautiful space nestled into the redwoods that I hadn’t been to a million years. As a bonus, I got to see the current exhibition on display.

Warp & Weft is about how textiles are integral in our lives, yet often overlooked. The exhibit showcases nine artists work with themes of family, community and politics through weaving and the history of cloth. Here are a few images I took of the show…

I know the parking is awful, but they are open Thursday nights until 7 and on Saturdays 12-5, so if you get a chance get up there and check it out!

For more information…

water inspiration…

I’ve been spending a lot more time in the water these days…it’s freezing but also exhilarating, I always feel better after a swim, as if the whole day can be reset by a good dunking. Swimming has always been a place of meditation for me, and water has always been an inspiration. Lately, I’ve been diving deeper (pun not intended!) into the science of water; reading more, learning more and thinking more about all the ways we encounter water. How we take its resource for granted, how we live in the subtle balance of having too much or too little water, how our bodies literally 60% water and really paying attention to what’s below the surface.

These images below are of radiolarian skeletons under an electron microscope, radiolarians are single cell planktons that live in all oceans, they trap carbon from the atmosphere and make up the majority of siliceous ooze at the bottom of the deep oceans. I’ve been fascinated by their complex forms for a long time and have based many works of art around these forms.

Over the coming months, I’ll be working on a number of new pieces using these as inspiration working towards an exhibition at Smith Gallery on the UCSC campus. I’m most excited that through the university, I will be partnering up with professors and students who are studying these creatures, their impact on the larger animals of the ocean, climate change and how we are all connected. I can’t wait to geek out on the science side of all this and use my art as the vehicle to share that knowledge in the upcoming exhibition. I am inspired.

Throwback Thursday…

Recently reorganizing files led me to going through some vintage works and also made me realize that I’ve been taking my art out into nature for nearly ten years now. A sense of place and belonging to that place has become so much a part of the work and my installations, that I don’t think about the work without thinking about these places, even through the connections are as ephemeral as a shadow.

In the beginning there were experiments, some that were more successful than others. Some work didn’t connect with the space as well as others, it took some paying attention to the spaces and the work that was naturally coming out of the studio to find those connections. To figure out which pieces were more terrestrial and which more aquatic, but it felt that somehow the circle was complete by placing these pieces back where their original inspiration began, like returning the clay to the earth.

When I’ve encountered other people during the placement of these pieces, they always assume that I found the work growing or washed up or reveled somehow and wonder what anomaly of nature they are – so I guess they do look like they belong there. Below are some early images from the start of this process. If you want to check out some more images and newer ‘in the field’ installations, click here. There will be more to come in the future, I don’t see me stopping this part of my creative process any time soon… enjoy.

Nest Series in the Stone Pools in Nisene Marks State Park Aptos California | 2013
Hive Series Manresa State Beach Watsonville California | 2013
Jenni Ward ceramic sculpture | in the field | bone series
Bone Series Fragments | Purple Sand Beach Big Sur California | 2014

inspired by baja

It was so wonderful to return to my happy place in the desert, work with creative and talented people while also getting some time to just watch the sun move across the sky. In these few weeks, my quartz rock collection grew, I saw more sunsets than I missed, and I watched the whales start to arrive at their southern destination. There is something about the quiet determination to thrive in the desert, that definitely inspires.

My weekend workshop at Barro Sur was a fantastic event, the participants were eager to learn new ways of working with clay and to be inspired by the flora and fauna of the region. Students came from all over to participate in this class. We spent two days building, let the work dry on a very slow bisque firing and then had a glazing opportunity in the days that followed. The results were beautiful and I hope that it inspired everyone to reconnect with the nature that surrounds them. On a personal level, it was great to meet and connect with new members of this small town’s community.

I hope to return again in a few months and get another dose of inspiration, in the meantime I’ll have to hang onto those sunsets in my mind.

Baja Bound…

In a few days, I’ll be headed off to our property in Todos Santos, Baja Sur to teach a weekend workshop all inspired by the desert, the ocean, the flora and the fruit of the area.

I’ll be posting photos and updates as it happens. Can’t wait to meet my students and play with clay at studio Barro Sur!

And a grande GRACIAS to all of you who donated to create two scholarships spots for inspiring local artists to attend my workshop! You guys are amazing!!