Spring 2019

Fall 2018

Photos: Jane Huntington

China, Fall 2018 and spring 2019

My dream of traveling to China, the birthplace of porcelain, to work in ceramics, came true in Fall 2018. I was invited as a Guest Artist to Taoxichuan International Studio in Jingdezhen, an extraordinary place where artisans and artists have worked in porcelain for over 2,000 years. Humbled and fully absorbed, I stepped into the creative stream of ceramics that dates back to antiquity.

In hand I brought my first small ceramic sculpture, Sphinx, and a host of inspirations lifted me. I was finally able to see the Tang Dynasty Zhenmushou, tomb guardians or earth spirits that I’d recently been studying. These grotesque, humoresque morphings of many animals were originally not viewed as art. I created two large sculptures, Oracle, Cixi and Oracle, Li Qingzhao, part of a series, Oracles, prophetic voices, that honor two extraordinary women, Cixi and Li Qingzhao, who served the Chinese people respectively as Emperor and as one of the most famous poets of the Song Dynasty.

In summer 2019 I was invited back to the Taoxichuan International Studio and was able to focus on the Zhenmushou, the Chinese earth spirits, that first captivated me some years earlier. These hybrid creatures are amalgams of various animals and humans. Though the trajectory of their origins is quite different than in my work, they share many common qualities with some of my earliest interests. The continuity of these visual traditions that tap into our biological and spiritual roots is unbroken. However, the natural world and all creatures are in a gravely broken state.

The Vestigials, vulnerable creatures with only four limbs, are nestled among small landscape forms, many studded with flowers. The ‘landscape’ is a bed of flowers suggesting a funeral, or new life, large cycles. It is time to call upon the Oracle and Zhenmushou, the earth spirits, in outrage at our reckless destruction at our transformed planet Earth/Eaarth. It is time to call upon the Sphinx and fertility figures of our past for our fellow animals who are vanishing all around us.