Monumental Self-Portrait Fall 2008

By far the largest and most challenging project of the semester was the disembodied monumental head. This self-portrait was an exaggerated, expressionistic narrative that allowed me the opportunity to express myself the most. At three feet high, this piece proved a technical challenge as well. The head was built from the neck up entirely hollow. Using coils and slabs, i built upwards, creating a structure on the inside using slabs as cross-beams. I then added clay to the outside to sculpt the hair and features of the face. Each animal was sculpted seperately, hollowed out, and then fitted in as the hair was added on.

These are a few process images:

finished form of face, wetwork


The finished self-portrait then received its surface treatment, which consisted of mason stains, and underglaze.

final surface treatment, before firing

final surface treatment, before firing

finished surface treatment, back, before firing

finished surface treatment, back, before firing

finished surface treatment, side view, before firing

finished surface treatment, side view, before firing

After the surface treatment was completed, it took several of my friends and I a very long night, to load it into the kiln, using a manual lift.

“Mother Nature”

3′¬† x 24” x 2′

White stoneware, underglaze,mason stains, salt fired (cone 10 reduction)

white stoneware, salt fired


The piece is now on loan for a period of one year to the Kansas City Art Institute’s new Continuing Educations building. These are some images of me at the opening:


Artist Statement:

My experiences in life have always led me back to nature, and my artwork is now the medium that allows me to relate those experiences to others. In this monumental self portrait, I strove to personify the idea of a ‘mother nature’. The animals and plants among the figure’s hair are wild and flowing, representing the state of untamed nature. The work also stands as an accurate self-portrait by physically depicting my artistic inspiration. The figure dreams as I dream, of powerful animals thriving, rather than struggling to survive.
I chose to focus on flora and fauna found in North America not only to relate better to the viewer, but to depict animals that are beginning to disappear. The constant upset of habitat, and natural food supply is continually affecting native American wildlife. This particular piece places the viewer face to face with nature herself, and asks them to see more clearly all the value there is in the creatures and plants that encompass her.

About Ariel Bowman

I grew up in Dallas, Texas where I learned to love nature, animals, and art. I graduated with a BFA in ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute in 2011. I am currently working towards my MFA in ceramics at the University of Florida. This blog serves as a way for my friends and family, as well as anyone interested in my work, to view not only the finished pieces, but some of the process as well. You can subscribe to this blog to keep up to date on what I am currently working on in the studio, research, new sources, and exhibitions.
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5 Responses to Monumental Self-Portrait Fall 2008

  1. Ada says:

    Nice Ariel! Good work on the blog, and it’s great to see your pieces in one place.
    I think Alaska is still wild enough you’d enjoy it thoroughly.
    Are you planning to travel the world for artistic research? animal research?
    I love you & I’m proud of you!

  2. sweeeetyb says:

    This is FAntastic!

  3. evelyne says:

    great job!!

  4. Woody says:

    WOW! Ariel, I am so proud of your accomplishments and am happy that I was a small part opening your eyes to your talents. I can’t wait to see what incredible things are to come!

  5. Ada says:

    Pop said you SOLD THE HEAD! Congratulations!!

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