Miriam Davis: Floating World



I hope people can recognize themselves in my work, and are moved to feel what Joseph Conrad calls the “invincible conviction of solidarity that knits together the loneliness of innumerable hearts…”

To develop the sculpture, I hand-model and carve porcelain. When it is dry enough to hold up—leather-hard–I hollow it out, do more fine detailing, fire it to cone 6, and paint it with oils.

I study my dreams, keep a dream journal, and have read Carl Jung and others on dreams and the unconscious, and participated and led workshops in which the participants explored possible meanings of the imagery and the sequence of events in their dreams. I have gained the understanding that conscious awareness is but a small part of who we are, and that in our deepest core there is an invincible tendency toward wholeness. Visual metaphor is the major mode of dream expression and I learned to respect the sometimes bizarre, often comic images that come apparently out of nowhere in a dream, or in a resting, tranquil state. If I took the time to try to understand the images, they always rewarded me with insight into my feelings and behavior. It was natural to use this language in my clay sculpture.

None of my work comes directly from dreams, but all use that language. I don’t get an idea so much as a picture. It might arise in a moment of reverie, and if I give it time, it might develop. Situations and gestures that are not literally possible may express something I feel and communicate experience. And I may not even realize–at the time–all that the image does express.

I might be thinking I’d like to make a pillowy evening dress, a wedding dress. You know, youth and hope, and a chance to make puffy billows out of clay…Maybe I feel I’d like to make a boat. There’s something about boats…

Right now there’s a picture in my mind of a small boat with a woman in it…She’s facing forward. There’s an overstuffed couch or chair floating beside the boat, maybe upside down…Is she reaching over to hold on to it? Push it away? Or is she just looking forward, maybe unaware of the catastrophe which is sinking the couch. What—or who–is in the boat with her? I come back again and again to the image, and wait. Now I’ve begun work on this one, modeling porcelain clay on a piece of board, and trust that, as it progresses, this strange thing we call the mind will respond to my request with images of what might be there. Something out of nowhere…Flowers of Air.

With thanks to family and friends, who have supported me and given valuable suggestions, and to the late and much lamented Michael Himovitz of Sacramento who first exhibited my work.

Miriam Davis

August 1, 2018


Author: mcohen15

I am an artist and teacher who travels extensively throughout the world. I am using this blog to share my experiences with my students and friends.

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