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Inspired Out of All Proportions

During my last year of high school, I was able to take a course in sculpture at the local community college. As I've mentioned in a previous post, the move from high school to college art was quite an eye-opener. One of the most memorable experiences was a class trip to San Francisco MOMA to see Judy Chicago's installation of The Dinner Party. It challenged all of the messages I had received about art and ceramic, up to that point, as well as many of the messages I'd received about myself, as a woman in the arts.

That trip was in stark contrast, however, to another that we took. Our instructor insisted that we attend the California Farm Equipment Show! I was aggravated and I thought he was a bit nutty, and that it was a colossal waste of time. On top of that, it had been raining constantly; the venue was cold, damp and very muddy. However, I made the best of it. My classmate's father farmed raisins and she knew what virtually everything was--

"Wow! What's that thing with all the big shiny disks??"
"Well, Vic...that's a disk-er."

I was in awe of the beautiful disk-er and of deeply treaded tires so huge they towered over me. Here's a disker in action:

After wandering around for a while, it began to dawn on me that our instructor had intended to push us out of the familiar realm of human proportions and into a land of huge abstract sculptures, repetitive patterns, motion machines, and color combinations that were neither urban nor nature-inspired. It was rural and technological, a culture and an aesthetic that were absolutely unique.

Since then, I've discovered that I like looking under the hood, in cars and other machinery.  I have very little doubt that the distributor cap on the left inspired the button on the right:

Translucent Porcelain
Thing #1
Distributor on a Welder

Metallic Tread
Basaltic Stoneware

Diane Kohne's industrial photos often provide inspiration. Compare the "button" in the photo at the top of this page with the button at left.

Where else do I find large machinery? Carnival rides are fascinating, both their mechanical articulations and their outrageous colors. The real-life tonka toys at construction sites call my name.

Thing #2
 When I can, I take pictures, re-color them,
invert them, mirror them, miniaturize them...
all out of proportion.

Not infrequently, I find myself looking at the inspiration for my next pendant, button or bead.


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