Why Terra Cotta?
I love the immediate and natural texture of water-based clay. There is no more spontaneous three-dimensional material to work with. If I’m seeking to portray the human figure, my favorite manner to do this is with water-based clay, known as terra cotta in its fired form. It naturally lends itself to drama through its texture, as light hits its contours to create a story with radiance and shadow.
Terra cotta is beautiful in its natural, fired state, but I provide a variety of finishes according to my clients’ tastes. Faux bronze patina mimics aged bronze, while encaustic stain gives a hint of color, letting the natural color and texture detail of the surface emerge. Some clients prefer the bare terra cotta surface; others prefer a gallery-ready finish. Occasionally I will glaze a sculpture, but only for the purpose of sealing, such as with a fountain centerpiece and basin.
Throughout history, terra cotta sculpture has traveled back and forth from being an end to a means, to being a means to an end. The Etruscans, Chinese, and Japanese artists, among others, sculpted in terra cotta as an art form in and of itself, a crowning achievement, while the Renaissance and Baroque artists, for example, created terra cotta bozzetti (Italian: small-scale rough drafts), essentially sketching in clay, to prepare compositions for larger, finished works in other materials. I treat terra cotta sculpture as an end to a means, a finished work of art, although many times my compositions are worked out through the construction of bozzetti.
My inspirations for terra cotta sculpture are Gianlorenzo Bernini, Auguste Rodin, Camille Claudel, and Sam Gore. I also find the ancient Archaic Etruscan animated terra cotta figures inspiring.