I am currently diving into my first real installation piece. This fall I am hoping to be a part of an international art competition that takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Entries open to the public this April, so I am hoping to complete my piece by then and submit it. I am really excited for this opportunity. This competition is through a non-profit organization called Art Prize. It is open to all mediums and subjects. I am hoping to keep updating my progress on this project as I go. Doing that will keep me motivated and will add a bit of healthy pressure to keep on my work. In the past I have made several attempts to enter pieces in to art competitions, but things kept getting in the way, like my kiln breaking down for instance. I am determined to finish this piece and enter it.
So, what is this installation I am making? Well, it is going to be a sculptural tree. I am wanting to move beyond the ordinary thrown pots and create something really different for myself. This is the kind of project I would have been encouraged to explore when I was an art student. Now that I am working for myself, I have fallen away from those challenges and explorations and I desperately want to dive into those again. An installation piece is pretty self-explanatory. It is the act of installing or setting something up. This piece will be non-functional and made to be hung on a wall. I am hoping for my tree to be somewhere in the ballpark of 3’x5′ to 5’x7′. It will definitely be the largest piece I have ever made. For those of you who are visual, like myself, here is the sketch of my tree.
I hope that gives you a fairly good idea at what I am aiming for. The trunk of the tree will be thrown on the wheel in several parts and then altered to form a natural look. The roots will be hand-sculpted and attached to the base of the trunk. Branches will be made by both throwing and hand-building. The leaves are hand-cut from rolled-out slabs of clay. I am creating at least five different styles of leaves to allow for a “full” look to the tree. These leaves will be glazed in copper green and rutile crystalline glazes. The trunk and roots will be left as raw clay with red iron oxide stains. All of those circles you see around the roots of the tree represent water. I want it to appear that the tree has grown on the bank of a river where its roots can extend into the waters. The river will be made by various sizes of thrown plates and will be glazed in my cobalt and navy crystalline glazes with hints of greens here and there as well. The dark “lumps” in my sketch are going to be river rocks. Those will also be thrown on the wheel. I am hoping to piece this whole installation together using wire and wood. I have started with the leaves and have made 25 of them so far.
You may be wondering how I came up with creating a tree and why I named it the “Jeremiah” tree. Well, Andrew and I have been pushed and stretched in our faith this year. We have a lot of decisions to make in the next few months about work, where to live, a baby on the way, and just overall busyness of life. We have really been feeling like things right now are out of our hands and we just have to wait for answers. In my Bible study I came across this verse from Jeremiah 17:7-8; “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit”. Instead of worrying and stressing over the things we cannot control, we are just going to put our trust in the Lord. I know he has a specific plan for us and I don’t want to be weakened with worry. That is the personal meaning behind my Jeremiah Tree project. I want it to always be a reminder to me as I work. I hope this gives you more of a vision for what I am doing. I have a lot to work on and am feeling very inspired to keep working at it. I can tell this piece is going to take a lot of trial and error since I have never done anything quite like this before. I hope you will be excited to share in my progress and help keep me motivated. I will be sure to keep you regularly updated on this work. You are my audience, so please push me!