Deborah Stewart
Medium: Ceramic
The sculptural forms I make are organic in the sense of being strongly curvilinear or plantlike and in their sense of breath and internal disquiet. These ideas derive from my background in biology as well as engagement with the physicality of nature: serious hiking, gardening, and many years as a modern dancer. The forms are abstract, but animated, conversational, argumentative, mysterious, even humorous in some cases. The surface is an important element in the overall impression of the work. I continue to explore soft, dry, or crackly surfaces as they relate to the evolution of ideas and forms. Originally, I started making three-legged work as part of the Baba Yaga Series. These were a group of large sculptures (around 3 or 4 feet high) whose source idea was the Russian folk tale witch, Baba Yaga, and her magical house in the forest, which stands on chicken feet and can rotate in any direction. While continuing to acknowledge the concept of “vessel,” I chose to work with three legs and a variety of strange feet because these forms, though figurative in some ways, could not be classified as either human or animal. These three-legged forms evolved over time into the basket idea, still with three legs. After while, the forms gathered into a crowd—five or seven legs, and began talking or shouting to each other. These had become the “conversation pods”. The pods grew stalks and continued their animated internal conversations. A description overheard from a viewer “looks like a bunch of green carrots going for a walk” was so much the way I had hoped people would see them.