About the Artworks
"Double Arch" private collection
I have been working in ceramics since 1969. Other pages on this website focus on recent work. Pieces on this page include early geometric forms that are concerned with placement in space, often combining clay and copper or steel, to more figurative works. All of them are based on approaches to objects I have learned through linguistic philosophy and observations from artists internationally.
I re-opened Arbitrary Forms Studio when Karen and I moved to Asheville in 2015. I create unique functional objects and sculptures that explore shapes that I have made and the ideas that formed them over the past 40 years. At this point, my practice focuses on vessels that are based on combinations of positive and negative, volumetric shapes with surfaces that include binary symbols based on Morse code and other systems of representation. The morse code pieces are now most frequently palindromes that read the same forward and backward. Dot dash dot, or dash dot dash, etc. They question symmetry, order, and meaning. Brain wave patterns are also used as a formally derived calligraphic or abstract expressionist brush mark.
Prominent sources for many of the pieces are the works of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the 20th century Austrian philosopher. The sculptures are not derived from quotations, but they grow around them. Imagistic vessels from the last decade involved questions that start with “W,” inquiries like “What,” “Where,” “When, “ Why,” or “Who.” In all of the works, significant influences also include linguistic and pragmatic philosophy; Neolithic and early classical Chinese and Japanese pottery, sculpture, and calligraphy; the pottery of the Peru and the American Indians of the Southwest; the wood carving of the Northwest Indians; and the stone carving of the Mayans. They reflect my appreciation of many contemporary artists working in clay and other materials as well. In college, I studied with abstract expressionists and minimalists, political and linguistic philosophers. In graduate school, I studied with imagistic artists and artists whose work referred to vessels. I believe I learned from all of them as well as the artists I have known since.
I am enough of a modernist to believe in principles, enough of a minimalist to believe in the primacy of materials and forms, and enough of a post-modernist to understand these are arbitrary, historically shaped beliefs. I have had the good fortune to grow up and study on the West Coast of the United States and to live and work throughout the country. I have been able to visit sites in the US, China, Japan, Peru, and Mexico where some of the ancient pottery and carved forms were made which have influenced my work and thought. Artists’ concepts and palettes are tremendously influenced by their visual environment and that is certainly true for me in the past and now in Asheville.