This spring I worked on a series called Troubled Water. I really wanted to try using non ceramic materials along with my pieces, and in order to do this I received the McKeown Special Project Award. This award allowed me to use a similar process to the one I used in Hungary in the summer of 2009. Receiving the grant also helped me purchase all the non ceramic and installation materials I would be needing. The pieces in the Troubled Water series reflect the current plight of the polar bear as it is the only predator in the arctic.
These pieces were slip cast using various molds. Like the rabbits I made in Hungary, these bears had a mold for the body, and a mold for each leg. The legs were then altered to change their position, and allow each bear to have a different pose.
The first of these bears was the piece called Troubled Water. This piece is a porcelain polar bear fired to cone 10 with no glaze. The bear was then attached to a rod inside an acrylic aquarium. I also fired large chunks of porcelain and placed them on the bottom of the tank to mimic icebergs. The tank was then filled with water, and the bear was illuminated using small, remote controlled lights attached to the interior of the piece. Here are some images of the finished piece.
This piece is called Tread Softly, and focused on a polar bear with a china painted landscape on its body. The landscape was referenced from the Fredrick Edwin Church painting, Icebergs. The bear was then positioned to walk on two arctic fox skins, emphasizing the dependence of other animals on the polar bear for survival in the arctic.
The final piece in the series is called Nothing Gold Can Stay. This title comes from the Robert Frost poem, expressing the fragility and ultimate mortality of all things in nature. These two polar bears were sandblasted, and then gold lustered to appear as if all the gold had been worn away over time. They were then positioned to interact with an actual bear skull, facing their own mortality.