I was born and raised in Mishawaka, a small town in Northern Indiana. I developed an early interest in fine art through my father, a painter. At a young age I was drawn to both music and art. I attended Herron School of Art in Indianapolis in the early 70’s. I have spent my life painting, drawing, photographing, sculpting and also working with sound to create pieces I describe as sound paintings or sound collages using both found sound and created sound. My sculptural work covers a broad range of approaches from site specific conceptual pieces that I document with a camera to more traditional approaches using clay and wood firing.
I started out as a painter but midway though art school I developed a keen interest in conceptual art, earth works and other similar ideas that were coming of age at that time during the early 70’s. I began experimenting with site specific works and turned to B&W photography as a means to document the completed pieces.
Site Specific B&W Conceptual Work
The site specific work involves a process by which I begin by observing the relationships and connections between the external and inner worlds we live in. I set out with my camera to wander around keeping an open mind, looking for the connections and relationships that present themselves to me. I find this to be a very interesting process in itself and it causes me to have an immediate sense of “being present” with every object and place having the potential to evoke a symbolic connection or reference to the human experience. I might use found objects, both man-made and natural, as elements that suggest ideas and symbols in context with the locations in which they are found. The pieces themselves might end up being a single construct that I photograph and then abandon with the photo as the only record of the “piece”. At other times, I might perceive a series of events that add up to a unifying statement that I capture as a series of images and present as one idea. Other pieces involve of process of what I call “a simple doing” where I transform the piece from “before to after” or from “this to that”, or from “here to there”. It’s the deliberate interjection or transformation that is key to the piece.
Wood Fired Clay Sculpture
My most recent work involves wood fired clay, one of the most basic of all materials, combined with a process that matches the medium perfectly and resonates with the subject material of the human form. In my exploration of the human form I expose the anatomy and combine invented architectural structure in a way that suggests both the fragility and strength of the human condition. My interest in wood firing began with my travels to Japan in the early 90’s to the ceramic centers of Bizen and Shigaraki where I first encountered their beautiful ceramic works with their amazing surfaces and patinas of earth colors created by wood firing in large anagama kilns. The process is a collaboration between conscious intent and the unpredictable nature of wood firing. Initially, I model the clay directly, working with its specific characteristics and limitations. Once a form is completed, the clay is allowed to dry and is then bisque fired. I use no glazes on these works. The wood firing takes anywhere from 8 to 12 days and reaches temperatures of 2500 degrees. During this extended firing process the wood ash, minerals and salts, which are not combustible, begin to adhere to the red hot sticky surface of the clay and builds up into an amazing natural patina and finish that is usually more than I could have hoped for and in the process transforms them.