There is a tradition in jazz in which a musician entitles a recording in tribute to a friend, mentor, producer or relative. I imagine these songs beginning from a surge of inspiration, quickly developing into a composition using educated improvisation. As the song emerges, so does a blurry portrait in the musician’s imagination. The form of the music begins to exude a spirit that acts as a reminder of a moment in time, a conversation, or a person. This leads to a tribute, a title.
Presently, I am making work based on this process. The shapes I have chosen to make are informed by ceremonial pieces from other cultures. In past centuries, centerpieces, salt cellars, funerary urns, planters and fruit bowls occupied an important place in a home or palace. Their sculptural presence and figural content transcended common pottery forms. Their intricacies seemed to beckon contemplation. The passage of time has eroded their significance.
I began making birds as a response to my growing interest in old ivory bird carvings done by the Native people of King Island and St. Lawrence Island. This work embodies the innate understanding of form and curvature only gained by keen observation. I create my birds with the intention of hinting at the sweetness of personality and gesture of which both birds and humans are capable of. The intimacy of their character is meant to complement the serious architectural qualities of the container they rest on and act as a representation of a memory of specific people who have passed or as tributes to people who I admire. Like some jazz tribute compositions, the personal meaning in my work might be obscure to the general audience. But I hope that my own musing are constructed in a way that provides some comfort to people.