the white series
My forms have simplified over the years, a conscious effort on my part to get to some elemental place with the figure, to cut out the non-essentials and reduce the forms to an essence of the body. My teacher in this was my brother David, who died suddenly in 2005 in California from multiple sclerosis. His disease was diagnosed in 2001, and rapidly progressed to a state of nerve degeneration that affected all parts of his life.
Whenever I saw him, I had to watch helplessly as his body slowly lost control of its nervous system. The changes between our visits were pronounced, but as things got worse, he always seemed to be at peace. I was in awe of this, and when I asked him about it, he told me that when he realized early on the depth of his disease, he came to the truth that he just had to let go of the things around him that he didn’t have space for and hold onto those that he did. The ease in which he accepted his disease, his body, its limitations and his eventual death was a gift that I think about all the time. There’s a difference between acceptance and giving in, and David exemplified it.
David taught me to accept and celebrate, to understand the power and emotion of simple gesture, how it communicates with others, and the empathy that can connect us when we share common experience.
I had an exhibition at the Works Gallery in Philadelphia shortly after David died, a new body of work that was in process at the time of his death and had to be finished for the show. This was the first grouping of the large-scale pots that I had shown. I decided to use the exhibition as a way honor David’s memory. I glazed the entire show using white glazes, removing the color and distilling the surfaces of the forms to simple tonalites of white in order to pare down the chatter amongst the pieces. I wanted the show to be ‘quiet’, to instill a sense of personal reflection. In doing so, I discovered the subtlety and beauty that’s possible when form is revealed by its core essence.