For many years I have been very interested in Zen Buddhism. My experience of sitting zazen, that is, in zen meditation, happened to coincide with my first experiences in working in clay, and each informed the other.
Initially I started sculpting Buddha figures in clay, but that seemed to be too objective and I wanted to express a more subjective experience of Buddhism. For me that meant a female figure and emphasis on the "hara" and on the experience of full belly breathing in meditation. For many contemporary women, allowing our bellies to expand fully with the breath is sometimes very challenging because we equate beauty with a flat belly and toned abs, not with the soft belly that Buddhism and yoga value. The hara is an area located one and a half inch below the navel and one and a half inches inward toward the spine. This point also happens to be the body’s central axis. When one breathes fully and centers in the hara then one can be tranquil and gain insight.
Because of the expanded belly, some people see my figures as pregnant and find them beautiful and celebratory in that way. I think that is wonderful, but that is not my inspiration or my intention.
I focus on the female figure from the belly to just below the knees, an area that many people view as erotic or sexual. Again, eroticism is not my intention. For me, it is just a statement of gender, and I call these pieces "Gender Meditations". To me they are quiet and subdued images that call forth the simple strength of women. Because they are wall-hangings, there is a connection with the idea of crucifixion and some expression of women’s suffering in this country and other nations now and over the ages. Also, I am interested in icon painting, and in many of the “Gender Meditations” I choose to use gold or silvery surfaces. Of course, buddhas are also often depicted in gold and silver.
I choose to work in clay, but not as a conventional potter. My pieces are made of stoneware and fired, but not glazed. After firing I complete the object with various surface treatments, including oil and acrylic paints and metallic pigments.