I work in a wagon barn on a ridge above the Piney River in Hickman County, Tennessee. I throw pots and sculpt by turns. I am happiest when I am lost in the work, when I lose track of time altogether.
In my own family our meals together are important times for reporting on our individual lives and discussing the issues that bedevil our country. The dinnerware on the table enhances our enjoyment of the meal and captures the spirit of our engagement. When I make a set of dinnerware for others, I imagine that it will be important for them in the same way it is for us—vessels for nourishing the body, mind, and soul.
Some of my other work functions in a different way. The big bottles are arrayed about the house in clusters as if waiting to be filled with provisions for the coming season or some long journey. They are ready, expectant.
There are three kinds of sculpture: terra cotta figures with stains and encaustic finish intended as indoor statements; stoneware figures suitable for outdoor or indoor display; and limestone busts, meant to punctuate gardens.
I begin my sculpture imagining a literary or historical figure who comes along to comment on what he sees in America today. For a friend, I sculpted Edward R. Murrow with a slightly arched eyebrow as if to say, “What are you doing there?” Too, I carved Abe Lincoln in agony, shedding states like detritus, states that had been won at such cost a century ago. And then there is the biblical Tamara who offers herself to Judah, seeking justice to be done. Individually, the sculpted figures are patient witnesses from another time, insistently intruding into ours like liminal heralds.
Examine the galleries yourself, to see what you can find there. Ask yourself if you too need a witness for your time and place.