For those of you who don't know me yet, I've prepared a little game of Four Truths and a Lie (a classic icebreaker). Four of the statements about me below are true, and one is not. See if you can spot the lie. Answers below the photo.
1.I once had a job as a cartoon character
2.I was once in a Christian rock band.
3.I make a mean BBQ pulled pork
4.I speak Mandarin fluently
5.I do not have a “green thumb”
1. I once had a job as a cartoon character: TRUE
My first “real” job, actually. I worked as a cartoon character at Carowinds Theme Park. I would put on the suit, usually Scooby Doo, Yogi Bear, or Hong Kong Phooey (does anyone else remember Hong Kong Phooey?). Although most of my artwork has a meditative/ contemplative quality, I do have a have a zany, rather animated side which comes out from time to time.
2. I was once in a Christian rock band: TRUE
This one is a little embarrassing, but true. My first band, while I was in high school. I have a photo. We were not particularly good, largely because I was not good at keyboards. But it was one of my first experiences taking art making seriously, and it whet my appetite for a life of creative practice. And it highlights two things that have continued to be important to me: faith and music. Plus, it was a great way to spend time with good friends.
Here I am in the band Alliance. Guess which one is me. Not pictured: the wildly talented Doug Davis
3. I make a mean BBQ pulled pork: TRUE
Although I live in the Midwest, my roots go back to the Carolinas for several generations. So when we moved here 17 years ago, I realized I was going to have to learn how to make my favorite Southern comfort foods, including good BBQ. I enjoy cooking, a trait I seem to share with many potters. Which has always made me wonder: do potters like to cook because they make pots, or do they make pots because they like to cook?
4. I speak Mandarin fluently: FALSE
I wish this were true. Even after two summers in China as an artist-in-residence at the Dunhuang Creative Center, I can’t get the hang of Mandarin. But I really loved my time there, and the friendships I have from that experience.
I consider myself incredibly fortunate that my artistic practice has taken me to other countries: China, Indonesia, and Switzerland, to name a few. As a kid I stayed almost entirely in the Carolinas, so I never dreamed I would have the kind of experiences I have had as an adult.
You can read more about my time in China here and here.
5. I do not have a “green thumb”: TRUE
If you have followed me on social media you may already know that I am pretty passionate about gardening, so you would think that I’ve got a natural talent for making things grow. I assure you that I do not. Many, many plants have died under my care over the years. I have made all the mistakes in the book, and a few that no one ever thought to write down. Any success I have as a gardener is the result of research, trial and error, and sheer stubbornness. The same is true for my artwork. I have never been the most naturally talented person in the room: as a student, as an artist, or as a professor. What I do have is loads of curiosity, a love of process, and a little patience. Turns out those traits are pretty good for making art and growing plants.
My backyard garden in 2021.
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the studio chair
A place for me to ramble on when I need to take a break.