As a ceramic sculptor, I use clay to give form and meaning to my ideas and feelings. I respond intuitively to the chaotic experience that is our world today and process the information with both critical thought and emotion. My daily interactions and reflections provide fertile ground for my work, as I try to capture something essential about the human condition.
Most of my sculptures are narrative, embodying stories from my experience, history, myths or contemporary life. Images of the natural world are also important elements in my work. I am interested in internal and external realities and the correlation or paradox they present. There are often different layers to any given item or situation, different points of view, different ways to interpret a context. By juxtaposing diverse forms and images I investigate and visually present these situations.
Much of my work has been figurative. A few years ago I started working with the chair as a form within which to explore narrative possibilities. The chair serves as a metaphor for the connection between the physical body and the intangible aspects of the self. The condition of being ‘seated in oneself’ is a fixed yet perpetually shifting condition over time. Currently I make ceramic sculptures that are both figurative and chair based. I find that when I work on two types of pieces concurrently I have pathways open for conceptual and emotion based expression at the same time.
I hand build my pieces with coils and slabs, and sometimes molded elements. I often include glass or metal elements into the clay during the firing process, and found objects incorporated afterwards. I love textures, both in the clay and in the glaze surfaces. Trying to achieve the appropriate interaction between form and surface challenges my decisions about patterns, color and images at every stage. I love the immediacy of clay and the dialog that exists between the inherent characteristics of the material and my intentions and control over the outcome. The finished piece at the end of this multifaceted activity begins a new dialog. Aspects in the piece I had not anticipated are reflected back at me. The process is dynamic and I am continually surprised and curious.
Catherine Schmid-Maybach 2009