Exploration is free.

A few weeks ago I decided not to figure out what this body of work is going to look like.  No more drawing.  No more magical pantomiming acts in an effort to describe what doesn’t yet exist.  True, I am working on casting a number of symbolic objects that I feel strongly about, but I’m not going further than that.  Why?  Paul Sacaridiz put it well when introducing this shift to a guest artist by saying, “This is a big move for Niki.  She’s the kind of person who knows her calendar 12 weeks in advance and will tell you it’s Wednesday, Week 3 and that she’s running an hour behind schedule.”  (It still make’s me crackup to remember him saying it.)  Painfully true humor aside, I have given myself until January 15th to mold and cast objects to my heart’s content.  After that I will be entering a direct building phase in which the porcelain pieces I have made will be incorporated with found objects resulting in finished sculptures.  Each step will be given time to inform the finished piece.  I see this as a generous approach for both making and viewing, my thoughts being that if the meaning of the work is not foreclosed at the beginning, it stands a better chance of remaining open at the end.

Giving myself the time to focus on the possibilities of porcelain this month has allowed me to begin testing pigments in slip.  Below you see the effect of “Blue Magic” when added incrementally to Jeremy Hatch’s slip and our class slip.

I have cast a number of chicks and bunnies from production molds to see how/if the pigment changes when brought to high fire temperatures.  The chicks being fired to Cone 6.  The bunnies to Cone 10.  (More pictures to follow when they come out.)

And here is the first successful mailbox to come out of the mold!

I also bought a plane ticket to California this week.  (Traveling, of course, is just one of the perks of making work about where you’ve lived.)  So, from November 11th to the 17th I will be visiting San Francisco, Marin County and Plumas County to document the last of my previous residences by photographing them and collecting a small soil sample.  This trip will extend the research I completed over the summer (which focused primarily on how location shapes identity through childhood) to broader questions such as if completeness can be attained through one’s relationship to physical place.

With any luck I will be getting a little help from the Vilas Travel Grant to make this happen.


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