Listen to My Heart, 2022
Ceramic sculpture, 23.25 x 14.5 x 15.5 in
On display at the Gallery at the Airport
I am a figurative sculptor who lives and works in the lush green foothills of western Oregon. I choose clay as my primary medium because of its malleability, capacity for transformation and direct connection to the earth.
From a solid mass of clay each sculpture is formed and then cut into multiple sections, hollowed, compressed and then reassembled. Layered patterns and textures are carved into the clay before it undergoes a slow bisque fire that can last up to a week. I combine underglazes, casein and acrylic to lay imagery onto the surface. My color palette echoes the places that inspire me; ocean, forest, desert and mountains of the extraordinary Pacific Northwest.
The resulting sculptures depict women that seem to originate from different geographical sources, but all of which explore the tensions of the feminine experience: strength and contemplation, instability and equilibrium, love and grief. Through these maternal archetypes, so evocative of the precious earth from which they were formed, I hope to express an eternal optimism for the human spirit in this beautiful and turbulent world.
In 2020, I began a body of work that I call “Salt of the Earth.” It is an ongoing series that I continue to work with. As I sculpt, I allow the piece to unfold intuitively. Similar to a stone sculptor, I begin by carving away from a block of clay. The beauty of clay allows me to continuously manipulate the form. It is a lively and thoughtful dance, this adding and subtracting of the material. Because I see my figurative sculptures as landscapes, I look for textures and patterns found in nature. I try out all sorts of objects to see if I can create the mark that will express my intention for each surface layer. Inside my studio I have bowls of inspiration: seed pods, shells, stones and bones. Outside my studio, I am surrounded by the raw beauty of wilderness and wildness.
For more information visit karenrusso.studio