|"Floof", Earthenware, Glaze, 11"x7"x11"|
When I was living in St Louis, my wife and I went camping along the Merimac river with friends. We had the camp fire, tents and hot dogs. It was hot and humid but that's the midwest in the summer. We took along our dog, Jake a 90 pound Chesapeake Bay Retriever. If you're familiar with this breed, you know they can be hard headed and stubborn and our dog was no exception.
Somehow he got off his leash, I looked first in the river because he lived for water yet he was no where to be seen. Then I heard him approach from the nearby bushes with an object in his mouth. I thought "here we go again" because he'd often return with chewing on something half decayed and smelly and it would be impossible to get it from him. When he approached I saw that he had a huge bull frog in his mouth and the closer he got to me the more vigorously he chewed. I backed away because it was his habit that once I approached him he'd gobble whatever nefarious thing down with barely a chew as fast as he could. I figured the frog was dead by now but I didn't want him swallowing it and getting sick. (he already drained our bank account once with emergency surgery to remove a rubber duck from his intestine)
I backed away hoping he'd lose interest and drop it. He didn't and a few minutes later he returned to his humans, empty mouthed and happy. I went back to the place where he was last seen with the frog and found remnants of the bull frog scattered around the area. To my relief, the frog in question was just a rubber toy that some kid lost and my dog found. It was so realistic that it had me fooled and I then realized it was the squeaker in the toy that he was after. The same squeaker that was in the rubber duck that we had surgically removed a few years previous.
In the beginning, I didn't know that it was just a toy frog. I was tempted to grab the legs and body of the frog but that would have made him more aggressive and I didn't want be left holding frog parts. In the end, the frog was not real yet the experience remains after all these years.
The older I get the more I realize that I can't predict where ideas will come from and with a few years behind me I have a rich history to draw upon. The experiences from the past that leave long lasting impressions, from the books I read, to graduate school to relationships and the mundane, are the ones that I pay attention to and turn into a sculpture. The education of an artist consists of everything.
Over the next week or so, I'm going to highlight five more sculptures that make up the new direction my work is taking. I will also discuss the Stirrup Spout that's in the frog's mouth. An idea that I have visited from time to time in the past.