Claywork: On Baobabs and Selfhood


I have been as fluid in my artwork as I have in my life choices. There has always been a continuity there, a path to follow. Due to recent shoulder surgery, I have returned to the sensuality and malleability of clay. I honor the tradition of the hand-built, hollow vessel: it is my body. It is the body of tree. My current work is based on my attraction to the baobab trees of Africa, Madagascar, and Australia. I am drawn to their magnificent form and their ancient presence as the largest succulents on the planet. An individual tree may live for several thousand years. Through their ability to retain water, baobabs are known to create eco-systems. They were earthly inhabitants before the separation of the continents some two million years ago. The community of Baobabs, due to a drying climate, may be moving towards extinction. Through this body of work, I wish to pay homage to these nurturing giants, one among the many trees of life.


As I have aged, the nature of "Selfhood" has evolved from a preoccupation with my inner identity- including issues of purpose, attraction, gender and power-to a deepening kinship with all that lives. Feelings of separation from the "outside" world have gradually transformed into a deep connection. I see the boundaries and duality of inside/outside as a convenient descriptor, albeit arbitrary, and based on the structure of our language and cultural agreement. My disposition/composition has moved me to gravitate towards both making art and entertaining the possibilities of ancient wisdom: honoring simplicity, and the integral world around us-our primary relationship. I choose animist (feeling the energy that animates the world), feminist, elder, and dendrophile! May my work be a prayer.