Today, decades later, I have given dimension to these childhood visions by creating an 8 x 10 foot ceramic installation. I call it A Story Place. Thirty life-size animals and insects sit intently listening to a child reading a story...curiously about them. They sit in a forest setting of 6 foot tall trees, numerous stumps, plants and a pile of storybooks, all created in clay. Each sculpture is hand-build, fired, glazed, fired again then painted with layers of color to enhance depth to hair and fur. Every gesture, expression, clothing color and finish is carefully chosen both artistically and with relationship to their group setting.
A Story Place is a visual feast, yet it also speaks volumes about the simple but very complex idea of "relationship." Creating a sense of "story" within "visual relationships" is what drives my art pieces from their conceptual core to their final finish. My life experiences and my work as a family threrapist have taught me that everything and everyone exits in relationship to everything else. How we are touched and affected by these relationships have everything to do with how we get along and how we give back to the world.
In this tableau the young girl is empowered by her ability to read to others, yet with advancing technologies will storytime and reading aloud become obsolete? Are storybooks an endangered species as are some animal species? How do we learn new lessons along the way if not by listening to our children? It is with purpose this young girl represents my daughter who died as a young adult. And because she loved both animals and books, A Story Place, an intimate gathering transcending frailties and discord, honors her.
Stories are food for the soul and imagination is the nourishing feast they provide. At age three when I was suddenly taken far away from my birth family; mother, father and six siblings, I found comfort in storybook friends. Colorful pictures of fanciful animals, and characters I yearned to know, came to life through my own fantasies and dialoge.
As a retired family therapist, I am now an enthusiastic clay artist. Variations of my figurative sculptures are represented at Matter! Gallery, located in Olympia, Washington, while
A Story Place is in need of a large venue because of its size. Perhaps a children's hospital or library.
Through the years, my experiences as a mother and grandmother, my extensive world travels and social activism, work as an illustrator, writer and therapist have all merged into a wholeness for creative expression. I hold dearly the possibility of viewers discovering their own smorgasbord of wonder and imagination through my art.