Making art is a complex multifaceted endeavor. Part of the equation involves how the outer world influences my inner world, and what comes from that reaction. Looking back I can see three major aesthetic influences in my artistic development, Asian, Antique, and Abstract.
People often mention a feeling of Asian qualities in my art. I’ve always been intrigued with Asian aesthetics, which can clearly be seen throughout my ceramic work as well as much of my current digital work. Some of the qualities that embody the Asian art aesthetic for me are:
Less is more, simple complexities
Pattern, particularly in silks
Abstraction as a powerful communicator
Intriguing color combinations
Wabi-Sabi, which is a traditional formal aesthetic studied in Japan
Perhaps this influence is caused by an emotional connection to Japanese craftsmanship. My father returned from WWII with artifacts from the life he had in Japan. I know he was lovingly embraced by a family there, and I am under the impression that there was a romance involved. No questions were ever directly asked or answered, so the artifacts he brought back held mystery for me. But their real power over me was their remarkable quality. No one can appreciate a maker more than another maker, and I was in awe of these objects made with the highest of skill, thoughtfulness and attention to detail.
Another big influence on my aesthetic development were the weekly antiquing trips my parents dragged us on. I never liked the smell of it, but I do remember being intrigued by the hoards of artifacts from anonymous lives. Invariably I would find something interesting and wonder how that object survived to be in that dusty shop. Of course with so much time spent in the shops, some of it came home with us. My parents favored the early American period, but I enjoyed the more decorative styles like William Morris, art nouveau, art deco, Victorian, Pennsylvania Dutch.
When I was an impressionable teen and really beginning to follow some ideas in art, abstraction and psychedelic art were all the rage. Abstraction created such a huge world for me, with so many ways of expressing an idea. It changed how I looked at the world, which made things exciting. Suddenly I could express an emotion with a few simple shapes. I remember loving the bare bald strokes of Franz Klein’s gestures, the new perspectives of Aaron Siskind’s photography, and the meditative moods of Mark Rothko’s huge canvases.
My aesthetic style is formed by experiences throughout my life, and it continues to evolve. But I have a feeling these core themes will stay with me forever.
I make things. These are some of my thoughts about making and being a maker.