Monday, April 21, 2008

Shay Church

Wet clay sculpture built on site.

Artist Statement
I grew up next door to an old General Motor's plant in Saginaw, Michigan. When I was a young boy my father would take me fishing on the rivers and lakes that surrounded the city. If it had rained the night before, we would wake up in the dark and I would pick worms out of the ground near our house using a flashlight. If the perch, bass, or walleye weren't biting that day we could always lower the worm to the bottom and catch carp. This seemed to happen often. When the day was done Dad would keep one of the carp. We would plant it next to the bushes and flowers to help them grow.

I believe in the natural cycles of the earth. Within these patterns of life and death is where I can find truth. While cities grow, wars rage, and industry climbs, nature’s heart continues to pound. Migratory paths remain, rivers continue to run downstream, wolves hunt, and insects are hatched. My artwork is an attempt to create a meaningful connection between the natural world and myself. Often this connection seems fleeting. It is based on observation and the physical act of working with material such as clay and wood. This physical relationship also allows me to explore my spiritual, emotional and psychological concerns for the human experience.

In my most recent body of work I am creating imagery that reflects both actual personal experiences and elements of nature that fascinate me. My curiosity lead me to combining these elements together, especially when they share common visual characteristics. For example, a landscape may blend into a wolf head or tree limbs may turn into wiry root systems or discarded antlers. By combining this imagery I am able to reflect connections that are symbiotic and dependent in the natural world. The raw clay and fired ceramic has begun to play a larger role in my work as it adds an element that creates a compassionate and empathetic environment. The visceral nature of clay is something most humans are both consciously and unconsciously connected to.

The clay for my recent installations "Grey Whale", and "Arizona" came from a deposit just south of San Francisco. I dug the clay and transported it to both sites. The environments I create are reflective of my wandering through landscapes, ranging from my home state of Michigan to living in California and traveling abroad. Somehow I feel all these environments are able to relate to each other. The direct interaction I have with clay has become my way of interacting with the natural world.

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