Highlighted Pieces

A Journey to the Ocean Inside (2)

This phrase repeats on a diagonal around this piece, but the diagonal lines are staggered. One line repeats the phrase twice. The next one starts with “Inside” and then continues, “A Journey to the Ocean Inside-A Journey to the Ocean.” So at the top, if you follow around the opening it says, “Ocean Inside Ocean Inside Ocean Inside, etc.” In the gallery section there is another piece like this but smaller. It was the first one that I made with this phrase. To get this depth in the relief I have used the same techniques demonstrated in the video in the “Artist’s Statement” section, but each letter is moved in or out from the wall of the thrown form. This piece has platinum luster on the letters at the top, decreasing as they go down the side.

A Journey to the Ocean Inside (2)

Flight of the Hamsa

This large construction is another version of an idea I’ve developed in several earlier pieces. For a conceptual description of this piece, see “He Becomes an Angel”,  in the “Highlighted Pieces” section. The word hamsa in Hindu lore is understood to refer to a crane or goose, and is a symbol of liberation from the cycle of birth and death. The hamsa is also the vehicle of the Goddess Saraswati.

 

 

Flight of the Hamsa

Journey to the Source 2

This is the second piece I’ve made using this design. The first was much smaller and was made as a receptacle for my father’s cremations. Can you see the fish shapes? I’m originally from the Pacific Northwest, where the migratory runs of salmon and steelhead are so much a part of the traditional folklore as well as part of the outdoor culture of today.

Journey to the Source 2

Refracted Journeys 1 (front)

This is the first in what I hope will be an installation of 25 to 30 pieces. For a short description of the project see my blog article from October 29. Each piece will have simple portrait photographs of the front, both sides, and the back of anonymous participants’ heads.

Refracted Journeys 1 (front)
Refracted Journeys 1 (left side)

Centrifugal/Centripetal: The Dark Night of the Soul 2

Centrifugal force is the force moving away from the center; centripetal is the force moving towards the center. The movement in this piece is around and up. At its widest, the parts start to separate (centrifugal) but then come back together as the form collapses toward the center (centripetal). In the top part of the piece, the color changes and there is the addition of gold luster. The inside is indicated not just with the openings at the widest point, but also with turquoise glaze escaping from the slits, a premonition of the effulgence to be reached at the top, at the apex. “The Dark Night of the Soul” refers to a mystical poem by St. John of the Cross in which he describes the difficult journey of the maturing soul to union with the Divine. The “Dark Night” is when the soul feels most distant from union, and yet in fact is closest; hence, “Centrifugal/Centripetal”. This is the second iteration of this theme. The first piece is in a private collection but you can see it in the the Gallery Section. I also wrote an article about both of these pieces for the Orange County Artists Guild blog.

Centrifugal/Centripetal: The Dark Night of the Soul 2

Flying to the Inside 2 (Water)

This is the second of three similar works in this series. In all of these pieces, bird-like shapes repeat in a pattern following the form of the vessel. In this second work, two diagonal swaths emerge from the vessel wall, with the bird shapes separating from the wall, almost leaving its grasp. Then the birds go back into the wall, continuing their flight “to the inside”. It is a “bio-geometry” of three-dimensional tessellations that leads the eye back to the inside of the vessel. The lower section of the composition suggests the source from which the birds fly, in this case water. The two sections are displayed on a platform of variegated sedimentary rock.

While this piece has two diagonal swaths emerging from the wall of the vessel in a helix-like juxtaposition around the vessel form, the first in this series has one swath. The third in the series has three swaths around the form. Each piece has a different lower section, abstractly suggesting natural environments from which the birds might fly. They all have stone bases.

These pieces are all evocations of the place where the material world becomes the platform from which the transformation of the spirit begins.

*** By the way, the top section is the piece that was shown in progress in the film at the bottom of the “Artist’s Statement” page.

Flying to the Inside 2 (Water)

Flying to the Inside 3 (Forest)

This is the third of three similar works in this series. You can also see the first piece, “Flying to the Inside (Mountain)”, as well as the second in the series, “Flying to the Inside 2 (Water)” on this “Highlighted Pieces” page. In all of these pieces, bird-like shapes repeat in a pattern following the form of the vessel. In this third piece, three diagonal swaths emerge from the vessel wall, with the bird shapes starting to separate from the wall, almost leaving its grasp. Then the birds go back into the wall, continuing their flight “to the inside”. It is a “bio-geometry” of three-dimensional tessellations that leads the eye back to the inside of the vessel. The lower section of the composition suggests the source from which the birds fly, in this case a forest. The two sections are displayed on a platform of soapstone. This piece is highlighted with gold luster.

Flying to the Inside 3 (Forest)

Flying to the Inside

This is the first of three similar works. You can also see the second piece, “Flying to the Inside 2 (Water)”, as well as the third in the series, “Flying to the Inside 3 (Forest) on this “New Work” page. In all of these pieces, bird-like shapes repeat in a pattern following the form of the vessel. In this first piece, one diagonal swath emerges from the vessel wall, with the bird shapes starting to separate from the wall, almost leaving its grasp. Then the birds go back into the wall, continuing their flight “to the inside”. It is a “bio-geometry” of three-dimensional tessellations that leads the eye back to the inside of the vessel. The lower section of the composition suggests the source from which the birds fly, in this case a stone outcropping or mountain. The two sections are displayed on a platform of black granite.

 

Flying to the Inside

He Becomes an Angel

If the point made by a nib pen symbolizes a beginning, or the creation point, then the three-dimensional projection of that point is a cube. Therefore I think of the cube as a visual metaphor for creation, or the body. In this piece, the cube, or the “body” is cracking, breaking apart. A vessel composed of wing-like shapes emerges from the cube as the spirit is transformed on its way to the inside, to the ineffable.

He Becomes an Angel

String Theory: Emerging from the Storm

I recently created two vessels with the main title “String Theory”. They are further iterations of a pattern that I developed some time ago that changes from geometry to bird forms and then back to geometry, following the form of the vessel. On these two new pieces I’ve carved the pattern, where in the past the pattern has been done with a glaze resist technique. In String Theory, physicists hypothesize that the difference between matter and energy is malleable. At some point, matter cannot be divided into smaller and smaller bits, but instead becomes a web of energy. These ceramic pieces are visual metaphors for energy becoming matter becoming energy. Note that during this movement from geometry to creation (birds) back to geometry, the negative and positive spaces flip. The movement is up to the top, into the center, into the ineffable.

You can also see the other of these two pieces, “String Theory: Birds Morphing” on this showcase page.

String Theory: Emerging from the Storm
String Theory: Birds Morphing

In the Reed Bed 2

“In the Reed Bed 2” is a commemorative piece, thrown on the wheel in December of 2007 to mark the 800th birthday of Jalaluddin Rumi. On the bottom it is signed with the inscription “Dec., 2007, 800th year Rumi”. “In the Reed Bed” is a reference to the famous beginning of Rumi’s Masnavi which describes the longing of the reed to be back in its home in the reed bed.

1. Hearken to this Reed forlorn,
2. Breathing, even since ’twas torn
2. From its rushy bed, a strain
3. Of impassioned love and pain.
—Rhymed Translation by Reynold A. Nicholson

1. Listen to the story told by the reed, 
of being separated.
2. “Since I was cut from the reedbed, 
I have made this crying sound.
3. Anyone apart from someone he loves 
understands what I say.
4. Anyone pulled from a source 
longs to go back.
—Translation by Coleman Barks

The reed, lamenting its abrupt removal from the reed bed, symbolizes the primordial longing of the soul to be united with its origins, to be at one with the Creator. “In the Reed Bed 2” is an interesting iteration in the context of my continuing engagement with the ideas of creation and transcendence embodied in all of my many “metaphysical pots”. The water of life emerges from the inside, at the top, and runs into the infinite ocean, at the bottom, symbolizing creation and transcendence respectively. If water is both inside and outside, then metaphorically, where is there not water? Yet the carved reed bed occupies the spaces between the waters, referring to Rumi’s “Reed forlorn”, and symbolizing that deep longing of the soul for union with the Creator that propels one’s journey from creation to transcendence.

“In the Reed Bed 2” is a large piece, 19 inches by 16 inches, and so has a notable volume. The deeper relief effects are achieved by cutting through the wall of the pot while it is still leather hard, manipulating the surface and then sealing the cuts from within with extra clay. All other details are carved. The piece is finished with numerous glazes in various combinations both sprayed and brushed. It emerged from the kiln miraculously more luminous than in my imagination, a rare occurrence.

A number of complete translations of this poem can be found at: Dar al-Masnavi, Ibrahim Gamard’s comprehensive guide to Rumi’s writings.

For more information about Rumi, whose poetry is read by millions of people worldwide, see the following:

In the Reed Bed 2

The Master’s House Has Two Doors (City Side)

Like other pieces in my “Metaphysical” genre, “The Master’s House Has Two Doors” is composed of water coming out of the center, the “Water of Life”, flowing into the water on the outside, or the “Infintite Ocean.” There are two outlets from the center, flowing in a spiral around the surface of the pot, bisecting the surface as it flows into the ocean. The two resulting areas are divided into “The Jungle Side” and “The City Side.” Symbolizing that which is created, the jungle side features a lush tropical nightime landscape. The city side imagines a traditional city, perhaps of Medditeranean or Middle Eastern geography, seen during the day; it symbolizes that which is created by the created. The title, “The Master’s House has Two Doors” was suggested by the beginning of a story written by the Sufi philosopher, Shurawardi, who was executed in 1195. (See The Mystical & Visionary Treatises of Suhrawardi, Treatise II, “The Sound of Gabriel’s Wing”, translated by W.M. Thackston, Jr., The Octagon Press, 1982.) In the story, when the narrator is still a young boy just having out-grown the restrictions placed on infants living in the women’s quarters, he is overcome with despair from a dream and wanders until dawn in the men’s part of the house. Then he has a desire to enter his father’s khanaqah, or Sufi Lodge. The khanaqah has two doors, “one onto the city and one onto the field and orchard.” He closes the door to the city and opens the door to the field. And from there the narration continues with what he saw and what he experienced.

The Master’s House Has Two Doors (City Side)