Yesterday some beautiful spring like weather came up into the mountains making it a perfect time to get a little early evening photography done out on the back deck at my shop. Pictured here is my patio torch collection "pricks on Sticks." This series is a satire of the leaders of finance and their collusion with the federal government(please check out my short silent film). I'd finished this work just before the Christmas season, but decided its vibe wasn't exactly helping the holiday cheer in my showroom, and so shelved it until the new year. Now that it's been over a month into 2011, I've had some time to ponder the series and the direction it will take. I've decided "Pricks on Sticks" will live on as more than just a one time satirical piece and instead will find new life
as an activist blog at www.pricksonstics.blogspot.com. Once a week or so, I will feature a sculpted portrait of the week's standout "prick on a stick" and
|Bernie Madoff and Friends|
The Back Story
What Prompted you to make this series?
Well, since 2008 I had become increasingly outraged with Wall Street's reckless behavior and the government's apparent complicity, if not out right assistance. As a simple (and poor) potter, however, I felt powerless to vent my frustration. It eventually occurred to me, however, that through my clay caricatures I might find a constructive voice of dissent.
How is Satire constructive and not destructive?
To be honest, I've been asking myself this same question, and have had occasional bouts of apprehension about continuing the series. The question of whether negative karma was attached to doing this kind of work definitely occurred to me. Recently, however, I had a transforming conversation with an activist friend of mine, Dana Smith, attorney and Founder of the Dogwood Alliance. Dana is in the trenches full time working to change unsustainable forestry practices in the South (see video below). She makes a career out of leveraging pressure against corporations whose actions are motivated only by the dollar. In our discussion she assured me that gaining public support for their cause is a key to making corporations re-shape harmful practices and that satire is one valuable tool for helping this happen. We talked about different ways my clay work could help bolster their message and that of other activist organizations all over the world.
What Other Ceramicists have inspired this work?
Well Robert Arneson is definitely first to cross my mind. Much of the political work he did through his career was insanely bold and
|Robert Arneson sculpture|
|Plate by Kathy King|
Describe the torches and how they're made.
All the patio torches are initially wheel thrown bottomless stoneware domes. I add facial features to the outside and then shape them mainly by pushing out from the inside. It's actually a very fluid process for sculpting and ideal for caricature. The torches are then decorated with a range of washes and glazes before being fired to 2300 degrees in a heavy reduction atmosphere.