the ark:artist's statement  

I spent a month-long residency in the summer of 2009 at the Hambidge Center in North Georgia. Because I felt like I needed to reconnect to a really simple, direct way of making work, I decided to spend part of that time making little clay animals. (The rest of the time, I worked on laying out and proofing the Unless & Until book and making some new paintings). Characteristically for me, this fairly straightforward idea turned into a mad quest to create 108 animals in the space of a month... Which, thanks to Hambidge's fabulous ceramics facilities & ceramics Residents, worked out just fine.

A bit more relevant information: in Buddhism and Hinduism, 108 is a number denoting a complete set, as in the 108 Names of Kali, or the 108 mala beads in a rosary. I worked from imagination & memory, in order to take a sort of inventory of internalized animal imagery. It seems to me that a lot of the little creatures refer back to beloved childhood illustrations - which makes sense, since childhood is the last time I worked with clay in any sustained way. Connections between the Ark and my other work have slowly revealed themselves. As I molded tiny feet one day at Hambidge, it occurred to me that I was filling in the Animal Voids - which struck me as a happy fact, given the loss and longing of that earlier work. Along these lines, I made Zoosphere as a response to my earlier Voidvideos, particularly River Voids. Matt Gilbert has also found wonderful ways of working the Ark beasties into several of his Unless & Until animations, including The Man in the Sea and Some Stars Fly.

The finished Ark consists of 108 hand-built, bisque-fired animals set into a diorama-inspired painting environment, with a frame built by my friend, the amazing ceramicist Archie Stapleton. I exhibited the finished piece in September-October 2009, as part of the Cloudmapping/Unless & Until exhibition at the University Gallery in Sewanee, TN.

 
Ark images:
 
   

individual beasties
studio views
installation views
zoosphere video