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Jeanette Morrow, ceramic sculptor
March, 2015

After decades of seaching for a creative outlet, I discovered clay in a pottery class and started making masks. I had become intrigued with the mask form while studying Eskimo ceremonial masks in an art history class two decades prior. There is something otherworldly and spiritual about masks that are used in ritual ceremonies. For me, mask making is a way of exploring the human connection with nature and the spiritual world.

Soon I was taking classes at the community college and expanding my repertoire to include figure and animal sculpture.

Like many artists, my influences and focus are largely the result of childhood exposure to images that resonate with me. I have only recently discovered the connection of my fascination with geometric patterns and bright colors to the stained glass windows at church. Likewise, my creations of women, who I have dubbed “garden goddesses” are strongly reminiscent of statues of the saints and the blessed virgin that I viewed in Catholic churches. I have found myself drawn to figure sculpture with a straight vertical plan and minimalist detail to the body. The focus for me has been on depicting faces that are serene and compassionate, like those I viewed as a child.

I also am fascinated with the birds I encounter on walks with my dog — such as crows, yellow–billed magpies, hawks, and roadrunners — as well as the flora in which the bird is found — such as oak tree branches, desert plants, and gingko leaves. A decade of living in the South West added the flora and fauna of that region such as coyotes, jackrabbits and kangaroo rats.

Working with clay is very rewarding, not only for its tactile properties but also for the process of watching the artwork within it emerge. Sculpting has opened a door for me to explore the natural world and to feel a deeper connection with a larger reality. It has become a lifelong learning process, not only in sculpting, glazing and firing techniques, but also in exploring other cultures and looking more closely at the world around me.

As a registered nurse and nurse practitioner, I have dedicated myself for decades to caring for others. Part of my journey has been one of finding a creative outlet that would nurture me and support my larger goal of helping others. My intent is that my masks and sculptures bring pleasure and joy to others and serve as an extension of the healing–force. Surrounding oneself with art is an uplifting experience that adds to the appreciation of life in its many forms. Creating art is that and more.
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