Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My Artist Statement!

Here is the long version of my artist statement. 
....playing with seaweed at Willows Beach when I was six.

I am a Vancouver Islander and my environment has always deeply affected my art. When I was a child I used to run down to the beach, gather cedar bark and kelp, tease the materials into long strips and spend happy hours weaving the cords into wall hangings and baskets. Later I'd follow trails through the forest and cut panels of alder bark to make tiny canoes for floating down the creek. My imagination was alive with stories and my first works of craft were props for my play making. My childhood freedom gave me early training for my current work. Storytelling is infused in my pieces as I work to achieve a subtle narrative based either on the character of the figure I am sculpting or a suggestion of past history with surface treatments and the design of my vessels. I was delighted when someone once commented that a piece I had made was Futuristic Primitive  as she couldn't decide if the piece reminded her of an ancient artifact or a prop from a science fiction movie! 

My Storytelling Muse awakens whenever I walk on the seashore or in a rain forest. The west coast environment envelops me in a creative cloak tinted with muted, misty colours and undulating textures. The sound of the waves and wind in the trees inspire mood and rhythm as I sketch my ideas. I capture colour combinations with my camera and fill my pockets with glorious collections of stones and 
inspirational tangles of organic materials that I use to stamp in the clay or weave into my work. 

I have been using polymer clay as my primary medium for for almost twenty years. Polymer Clay is a synthetic material that fires at 275 F. It is available in a myriad of mixable colours as well as a translucent version for 3 dimensional surface effects. It can be sculpted, stamped, carved and even turned on a lathe or potters wheel. Adding inclusions such as sand, ash, ground herbs and spices or crushed clamshells results in interesting variations that imitate natural materials such as jade, opal, turquoise or even rusted metal. As the clay fires at a low 275 F it can be fired repeatedly with organic or mineral inclusions and attachments. I am able to carve, stamp and "scritch scratch"  the surface of the clay for effects that I highlight and colour with alcohol inks. I include pieces from my collections of silk and wool fibres, organic materials and beach-combed treasures for connections and texture.

I have recently discovered that weaving with kelp affords many of the advantages of polymer clay. It assumes a malleable leathery texture that presents a sculptural weaving experience and like polymer clay it may packed with molding materials to support and to coax interesting shapes as it is oven-fired at low temperatures. My current focus is upon figurative sculpture and vessel building and I am especially interested in combining these synthetic and natural materials by constructing polymer clay, kelp, cedar and sweet grass vessels with figurative support structures.

Meeting people at shows and exhibitions is always a wonderful experience and I feel enormously encouraged when my work motivates conversation but nothing is more exciting than hearing people invent stories to complete the connection between the artwork and the viewer. As I see it, my role is to incorporate influences from my landscape to create pieces that inspire the viewer to celebrate their own 
sense of play and in turn find joy in creating their own stories as they view my work.

Gera Scott Chandler- Victoria, BC 2013

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