Most of my work can be traced back to three main points of origin: folk pottery of the southeast united states, the dada movement of the early 1900s, and nostalgia for my own personal history.
I have always been drawn to functional items. Thus the simple, functional clay forms made in the folk pottery tradition have always been a source of reference when making my own work. Even before I had the proper historical knowledge and terminology to talk about them, I was emulating the jugs, jars, pitchers, and myriad other shapes made by the various families throughout the southeast region.. These simple but strong forms are familiar and evoke a sense of vicarious nostalgia for a time and place I have never personally experienced.
When this vicarious nostalgia for the folk pottery culture is combined with the genuine nostalgia for my own family and home, the result is a range of more personalized functional forms and materials that appear soaked in the past without imitating it directly. Traditionally fatter jugs get stretched and narrowed to resemble two liter bottles of Super Chill soda. Bottle necks get stretched to look like the long flexible nipple of a calf bottle. The ubiquitous five gallon buckets that litter the farm get reinterpreted as ceramic water coolers. And more directly, pieces of wood and metal scavenged from the falling barn get reused as display bases and embellishments for the pots.
While the pottery forms themselves knit together the threads of folk pottery and my personal history, the text applied to the pots introduces the more “contemporary” ideas of dada and “fine” art.
Writing on pots is nothing new, and has strong ties to the folk pottery tradition, specifically via David Drake (Dave the potter) and the Kirkpatrick brothers. But while these historic examples seem legitimate, in my own work such an overt addition of content feels inauthentic and appears to be trying too hard to be taken seriously. This inauthentic feeling is cut, however, through the use of dada's found objects and the surrealist literary technique of automatic writing. Items found at random (a doctor's note stuck between the pages of a book, or a box of junk accidentally bought at an estate auction) serve as the catalyst for the stream of consciousness phrases and verses. The text has no meaning; it is utter nonsense. But this nonsense does serve to subvert the seriousness of “fine” art, and begins to remove the importance of myself as the artist.
In the end, if all three of these elements have come together properly, I have made pots that are interesting and engaging without appearing pretentious or inauthentic. They bring up notions of the past, but not a past so distant that it is not accessible; pots that are relatable without being too personal, perhaps even evoking an unidentified sense of nostalgia in the viewer.