me and my process
I began working
with clay in 1971 while studying at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City,
During that time I also studied a variety of other subjects such as, stone carving, jewelry,
printmaking, painting, functional pottery, and photography. Toward the end of my studies at
the university, sculpture became my main focus in the form of jewelry, clay and small metals.
After learning techniques of wheel thrown and hand built
pottery, I shifted my focus to the
sculptural aspects of clay. I love it's touch and responsiveness. It is a very intimate medium
because my bare hands are working directly with it without being separated by tools or other
equipment. Because of this, I have learned that I can "see" with my hands and this aspect
combined with the visual aspects enhance the surface quality of which sculpture is about.
The subject of my
sculpture has almost always been about animals and elements from nature.
The natural world, and it mysteries and wonder inspires me to explore it's representation with a
sense of realism and mythology.
In 1981 I began sculpting
cows. They have an amazing form and volume and seem delicate
and yet clumsy at the same time. I also like sculpting overstuffed 1940's style couches and chairs
with cows sitting on them because their forms seem reminiscent of each other.
The visual association of a clumsy looking cow who if trying to act demure, while at the same
time "letting it all hang out" on a sagging couch or chair that is about to collapse is
at the core of my sense of humor.
I envision ridiculous or
impossible situations as a basic premise and then build a sculpture to
tell that story. My choice of what kind of animal to use in any particular sculpture is determined
by which one will lend itself best in conveying a sense of impossibility or absurdity. I then combine
these elements with my desire to sculpt inflated and voluptuous forms and surfaces.
The blend of technical ability along with my sense of humor expressed in a sculpture is intended
to create a safe place of non-expectation and playfulness where one is allowed to participate
and then to discover the finer details of the work.
In recent years, as I have begun to explore bronze as a primary medium, I
am drawn to more
of a classical approach to my sculpture in both my mythological work as well as my humorous work.
A BIT OF TECHNICAL INFORMATION
My preference is to use a water clay that
has a very fine grain and smooth texture.
I tend to work mostly with white or light colored clays because it allows my glazes to be more
colorful and bright.
When I sculpt, I work with a solid mass of
clay and then at a particular point of the drying process
and while it is still moist I cut the piece apart and hollow out the respective parts and then
Most of my sculptures are made from high
fire clay that is fired to 2100 to 2300 degrees Fahrenheit.
I have also worked in different temperature ranges as well and each time I do so, it is necessary
to do a series of small tiles which test the clay and glazes that I am going to be using to see how
they will respond to lesser or greater heat. I use glazes that I have formulated to work at certain
temperatures and with particular clays. Although I use several commercial glaze preparations,
I enjoy making my own with raw ceramic materials. Most of my sculpture is fired in one single firing
with the glazes being applied directly to dry green ware clay but at times I am required to do as
many as three or more firings on a single piece to get the results that I want.
I incorporate graphical and photographical
images in my sculpture at times. This is a process that
I have developed which consists of pigmenting an image and then transferring it to wet clay, which is
then covered with a transparent glaze and fired.
Working with clay and glazes has always
been like alchemy to me and I have never lost my fascination
with the infinite possibilities of both.
In recent years, in addition to continuing my ceramic sculpture, I have started to produce works
in bronze. I have grown more and more in love with this way of working. I use a non-drying clay
to sculpt my originals. I love the detail that I can sculpt with this clay and towards the end of
finishing the clay sculpture, I use different size brushes bring out very fine details
also like to add that I am a photographer and have been taking photos for most
of my life.
It has now entered into my sculptural clay work using my own technique of firing photographic
images that I have printed onto clay. I am calling this work "fire-prints" for the two
dimensional work and for the three-dimensional pieces.
Presently I am living and working in Denver, Colorado.
All text and images copyright Dwight Davidson 2016