The nature of ceramics can be unpredictable, especially when you don't have much experience with working with them yourself. Today was the moment of truth, when I opened the kiln, after a day of firing it, to see how my Alchemical Vessel turned out for the upcoming exhibit and fundraiser at the Smith Center for Healing and the Arts/Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery in March. My first reaction was a huge sigh of relief. Nothing had broken, smeared, etc - the image was still fully intact, both top and bottom. Then I noticed how much darker the rhino got in the kiln after the firing, going from lighter shades of gray, to almost blackish, charcoal gray tones. Yet, I really liked it, and am well aware that there are rhinos in the world of this color. Then I got a closer look at the flowers and was more than pleased with the results. Flowers are not something I've spent much, if any time in my life painting - that's my wife's specialty, and she's very good at it.
The late evening, indoor cell phone pics don't do the piece a whole lot of justice, and it looks far better, in my opinion, in natural daylight. Still, I'm so happy with the piece and feel so much more confident about possibly pursuing more work like this in the future. There is a definite learning curve and the need for patience when working with glazes and underglazes and the whole firing process, not nearly as instant as working on paper, or canvas even. Now, last but not least, it's getting the vessel safely returned to the Smith Center.
What a thrill and honor to be a part of this project, whose opening reception takes place on Friday, March 27, from 7-9pm at the Joan Hisaoka Gallery in Washington, DC. In the meantime, I thought I'd share the artist statement for my vessel, titled "Hope and Strength in Times of Darkness".
The rhinoceros, as a species is under attack and in threat of vanishing from our planet forever, as a result of human greed and corruption. As these mental diseases place this benevolent beast on the brink of extinction, the rhino stands tall, and it has many allies among the very species that has put it in grave danger, willing to fight for its survival. Like the rhinoceros, we all have, at some point in our lives, found, or will find ourselves in situations that can turn our worlds upside down, and we all need something to remind us of the hope and strength that can be found deep inside, as well as from others. The rhino in this piece, offers the viewer a gladiolus flower - a symbol of the inner-power inherent in every human being, and a reminder that there is still great beauty in the world, even in the darkest of times.