In the early 1990’s, I started growing bonsai trees, and I took up pottery to make pots for my trees. I soon became enthralled with pottery itself, so much so that I have now semi-retired from my position as Professor of Anatomy & Neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine, to give more time for pottery
My pottery has developed into three distinct but related lines. I continue to make bonsai pots, mainly for my own use. I also make functional pots that are intended to be handled and used regularly. A good mug is a joy to make and a joy to use.
This exhibit is focused on the third line of production, sculptural pieces that I generally refer to as “spirit houses”, after the remarkable small wooden spirit houses made in Thailand. The Thai use them to attract and mollify local spirits that they hope will help and not hinder their lives.
Many of my “spirit houses” are buildings, from towers, to cottages, to cathedrals. They may be inspired by actual houses or other buildings, but they are not intended to be realistic replicas. Instead, they are meant to suggest a structure that can shelter the thoughts, hopes, fears, or dreams that represent our “spirits” in a contemporary sense. Recently my spirit pots have evolved into boats or boat forms.
The first boats I made carried houses on them. One pleasing result of putting houses on boats was that they immediately became mobile, able to carry spirits on a journey. With later boats, I replaced the houses with figures of boatmen or passengers in the boats. It is not always clear where they are headed, but they are obviously on a journey. Other boats are simply empty vessels, and can play a functional role as fruit, bread, or salad bowls.