...a grid of six self-portraits of my aging torso pulled and pressed as though it were made of clay. Each figure is imperfect; each is unique.
The figures would be arranged in loose groupings, allowing the viewer to recognize the sheer mass and also to examine individual pieces. The different tones of clay and hues of glaze suggest the varied cultural histories that flow within and around us. The photographs are digital prints and the size will depend on the venue. They might be small, and placed unobtrusively in relation to the clay figures, as though this aging human body is but a minor part of the continuum. Or they might be printed with far more contrast, in a larger format that abstracts them, so that the visual connection is with the flow of humanity rather than to the individual components.
I still remember the remarkable experience of seeing the Venus of Willendorf at the Museum of Natural History, in New York, in the 1970s. It was shown in one of the first blockbuster exhibits and I followed the crowd into a darkened room, slowly moving toward glass cases illuminated by spotlights. It was amazing to finally come upon this tiny, unassuming figure. I instinctively took a picture of her before the guard informed me that no photographing was allowed.
A few years ago, I began imagining that when I get very old, I would fashion hundreds of small female figures as homage to all the clay, wood, metal and stone figures that I’ve seen in countless visits to museums over the years. I had no clear vision about how I would make them, and never imagined that when I was 65, retired from teaching photography full-time, I would actually begin this adventure. When I joined Feet of Clay studio in late September of 2004, I had never worked with that medium and never imagined that this installation would evolve. I was simply committed to exploration.