Artist Statement

For many years I have explored the figure in my work. It has now become my primary format, my canvas. I choose standing figures because I like the vulnerability – physically fragile clay and emotionally fragile humans.

I started the current series of standing figures in 2004. Some are personal and address psychological issues. Some reflect the interdependency of man and nature. All address the human condition with a sense of humor and humility.

I live in the mountains and spend much of my free time camping in wilderness areas. My connection to and love of nature inspire many of the figures. The mystery of the natural world around us is ample information for images and metaphors. In most pieces, I create patterning and repeated imagery like a refrain or a mantra. This works as a meditation for me during the creative process. As an intuitive worker, this reinforcement of subject matter amplifies my connection.

The figures are approximately three feet in height. The forms are coiled using cone 5 Laguna B-mix or Redstone that is fired in an electric kiln to cone 1. In some, I use press molds to create the patterned surfaces. Many of the finishes start with colored slips. Trained as a metal worker, I developed a post-firing finish that is more like a patina. The porous surface enables the absorption of oil-based pigments. Many layers may be applied and then tarnished with a torch and printed newspapers. After the surface hardens, I may apply Briwax and burnish with the torch.

My work with a multitude of media including metal, printmaking, clay and painting has influenced the “Earthly Patterns” collection. While the figures are ceramic, the overlap of art disciplines helps to make each piece unique, and my creative process full of discovery.

Julie McNair
Copyright 2005 Julie McNair