This project has been growing in my mind for about a year but I think it has been in my heart for much longer than that. The scary thing is that I still don’t really know what the project is going to look like. All I can really say is what plans I have made and what is about to transpire. I’ve saved money and written a successful Career Opportunity Grant to the Oregon Arts Commission and Ford Family Foundation (ohmagod, thank you). On May 20th, 2017 the trip begins.

Below is the summary of my intentions:

  • May 20th: leave Portland, OR and arrive in White Salmon, WA for a day long workshop on finding, digging and processing wild clay.
  • May 21st: drive 7.5 hours to Missoula, MT
  • May 22nd: drive 2 hours to Helena, MT to visit the Archie Bray Foundation. Drive 3 more hours to Yellowstone National Park, WY.
  • May 23rd: Spend 1/2 day at Yellowstone, drive 8 hours to Rapid City, SD
  • May 24th: Mt. Rushmore in the morning, 8 hours to Rochester, MN
  • May 25th: drive 5.5 hours to Chicago, IL, half day at the Art Institute of Chicago
  • May 26th: drive 3 hours to Brownsburg, ID to visit family and pick up mom and sister.
  • May 27th: drive 6 hours to Pittsburgh, PA, spend 1/2 day in Pittsburgh
  • May 28th: drive 4.5 hours to Fredericksburg, VA to visit family
  • June 1st: Arrive at the Cub Creek Foundation to begin summer residency (Clay making and forming, firing bad-ass kilns and gardening)
  • August 4th: First Friday reception for my summer work at Fredericksburg Center for Creative Arts
  • Residency work continues at Cub Creek until August 31st
  • What’s next remains to be seen. I’m open to anything.

Cub Creek Foundation is a ceramic residency program in central Virginia. I’ve become interested in the conceptual importance of digging and processing wild clay. It is my intention to dig small batches of clay as I travel across the country. Also, two bands of clay run through the Cub Creek property and are already being used at the facility.

My work is conceptually centered on ideas of family and belonging and I have found, in the ceramics community, a familial culture that I have not experienced in any other art field. I have also found a sense of belonging in the clay itself.

Processing earth to make art, as with growing plants, makes me feel connected and at home, wherever I am. Clay also gives me a feeling of timelessness, a sense of place without time. I am a Virginia native and this residency not only places me in closer proximity to my living relatives but to my ancestral home. As part of my conceptual research, I am participating in a DNA project that connects the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina (who I believe are my ancestors), to the Lost Colony of Roanoke. While I don’t know where my research on this subject will lead me, I expect that all of the aforementioned factors will contribute to the imagery I make during the residency.

Understanding clay, smoke and fire is deepening my conceptual well. The metaphor of geography as self portraiture feels significant. I am charged with questions and I believe that some answers will lie in the clay, some in the people and places.