Artist’s Statement

Maria WickwireMaria Wickwire

I work with the most elemental of materials: clay, story, and human form. Clay is the oldest material we humans have used to express ourselves. Perhaps only our stories are older. And even before we began to tell our stories, there were our bodies, standing as witnesses to our lives and recording every experience in their cells, the way the rings of a tree record its life story. By tracing the rings, a person can map the growth of the tree — the years of drought, fire, and flourishing. The markings on my sculptural forms express our inner experience, which we could also read in each other, if we only knew how to look.

Rather than beginning with a story or concept in mind, I start to play with the clay and watch as the sculpture takes shape in my hands, intuitively responding to her and even being guided by her. As she emerges, I feel as if I am simply a conduit that allows her to step forth to tell her story. The process of making sculpture is, for me, a creative journey, a quest for discovering the stories that bring meaning to life. Once the sculpture is finished, my job is to watch and listen until her story and her name reveal themselves. Sometimes a sculpture will wait, nameless, for a long time until I am led to the story she came to tell. I am always amazed that the tales about growth and creativity, intuition and courage, discovered through this process, have been told in cultures all over the world, separated by time and geography, but like dreams, archetypes common to people everywhere.

Each sculpture must go through an arduous process to become who she is, beginning as a soft and malleable, formless lump of clay.

studioshot-2As I build, using a coil method, the earliest layers must gradually become strong enough to support the new growth that will be added. Finally, she must acquire glaze patinas and pass through several firings, where she is heated up to 2200° and her very body is transformed. During the firings, her body shrinks and moves, melts and glows, until she has changed completely and can nevermore be the undefined lump of clay she once was. However delicate she may appear, she has become incredibly strong and able to weather extreme cold or heat. To me, her metamorphosis is not unlike the story of a human life. We are all in the process of creating ourselves, passing through the crucibles of our life experience and emerging stronger each time, but carrying with us the beautiful marks of courage we have earned along the way.

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