Ceramic artist Mary Kinzel Means presents a delightful collection of whimsical and symbolic sculpture. Visit her website to see more of her portfolio.
I’ve always been drawn to faces and expressions. I was constantly being chastised in grade school for doodling faces on my assignment edges, something I did without thought, throughout college and even now. The difference is that today I celebrate the expression rather than feeling at fault.
When I’m on the phone, I sketch. If there is a paper and pen in front of me at a restaurant, I’m going to draw. My doodling and love of arts landed me at the University of Tennessee as an art major.
Upon graduation I felt less than positive about making a living as a professional artist, so I ended up on the other end of the art spectrum as a consultant. After years of selling other artists, I discovered ceramics (something which I had never experimented with in school) and literally fell in love, thus starting my second career.
Beginning with a new untouched block of clay provides an extraordinary sense of endless possibilities. I usually start my process with a casual sketch of what I’m planning to create. That that often changes as the clay tells me who and what it wants to be.
There is something fiercely organic about putting my hands in clay, a relationship, if you will, between earth and spirit. I have a connection with each piece and enjoy feeling the energy come through the clay. I love to just let go and let the clay tell me who they are and what emotion/feeling/expression they want to have.
My primary method for sculpting is known as the coil style of handbuilding. It combines rolling coils of clay and slowly stacking and molding through creating pressure on each coil until properly joined. I incorporate various finishes including glazes, oxides, cold wax, metals, and found objects with multiple firings.
I’m a tremendous animal lover with horses and elephants being two of my favorites to create. As much as I appreciate their aesthetics, it’s the symbolism that truly moves me. With strength and independence representative of the horse, and good fortune, wisdom, and protection symbolic of the elephant.
Dream imagery is another recurring theme in my sculpture, with the hopes of providing the viewer with an introspective sense of remembrance. Ultimately, my work is a connection between earth (clay) and the ethereal. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes serious, but always peaceful, positive, and full of gratitude.
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