My biography really begins with the artistic genetics in my family which are a credit to my paternal Great Grandmother Nellie Stoddard. She was a prolific Oil Painter and, while I did not know/meet her personally, I feel I’ve come to know her artist’s heart through her paintings one of which is displayed here.
Of mostly English heritage, I was born in Dallas, TX the youngest (and only girl) in a family of four children. While my Father’s work kept him based in Dallas, he and a partner owned a ranch in Bosque County and much of my nearly overwhelming inspiration of nature can be dated back to that time and place.
As a child and well into my teen years, I loved to draw but it wasn’t until my college years that I really began cultivating my passion for Art in general. Following High School in Dallas, I came to Colorado to work/study and felt I had come ‘home’. I completed undergraduate work in Fine Arts with a teaching degree from the University of Northern Colorado in 1970.
Marriage and family followed; when my two children were older, I taught Art K-12 in the Public Schools. I always promised myself that when the children had ‘flown the nest’, I’d return to school for my Master’s Degree and I accomplished that goal in 1996. A surprise awaited me during my graduate work. My original intention was to focus on Art Education but in my first semester, I signed up for an elective in Ceramics. I knew the minute I began working on the potter’s wheel that it was going to change my life. So, in addition to Art Education, I doubled my focus to include Ceramics and I’ve continued my ‘love affair’ with clay to this very moment. While I experimented with many different firing processes, it was Raku that was most aesthetically appealing to me and I have concentrated my work in that process ever since.
After earning my Master’s Degree, I instructed Art Courses on a part time basis for Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University). This allowed me time to develop my professional Art business under the name “Shekinah Clay”. Growth & success of the Art business necessitated my resignation from teaching & I have devoted myself full time to the creation and marketing of my raku art work ever since!
The western slope of Colorado, where I continue to be captivated by the austere beauty of the desert southwest, has been my home for a number of years. It is in this location that I continue to draw rich inspiration for my work.
My work and the creative process itself are clearly in the “driver’s seat” of my path as an artist. It is like being on a road trip and not being sure of the exact final destination but being filled with excitement and adventure of where it is taking me.
There are consistent elements in my work which have their roots in the desert southwest; its landscape, wildlife and imagery. I have studied and drawn endless inspiration from the pictographs and petroglyphs left behind on rock and cave walls by more ancient peoples who inhabited this area in centuries past. The ongoing influence of Native American artistry and culture is also a source of admiration and respect.
Of continuous challenge to me, and perhaps the single most significant one, is to incorporate much of the iconography of this geographical area in a new way that is unique to my mode of expression. Images are stylized in a more contemporary approach but are placed on carefully crafted surfaces suggestive of rock/cave walls, and, while some of the forms might be reminiscent of Pueblo pottery, the intense coloration of iridescent raku glazes puts a modern spin on them. The ancient spiral symbol might be portrayed as a sculptural focal point on a wall piece or pictorially along with other stylized images.
In a sense, my work might be termed “Neo-Southwestern”. I love contrast in artwork and enjoy the challenge of “making it work” aesthetically. I love creating sculptural, abstract forms with randomly torn edges; combining contemporary with old/ancient. Often, I combine other materials such as fiber, copper metal/wire, bone beads and metallic threads which I find visually exciting.
Each of my pieces seems to have its own “life” and I strive to remain open & receptive to its own dictates for final presentation.