IN THE ROOM
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, specifically Ellie – the elephant in my room.
In September 2013, I embarked on a new adventure – attending my first ceramic class since the one class I took all those years ago. When I joined the class, our teacher, Jenni Ward, had already set a prompt for the class – make a sculpture inspired by an animal, and make it big (and make sure it fits the 23″ diameter wide kiln). “Okay,” I thought. “Elephant.” Even without a live model, I was able to observe and study elephants from photographs I found on the web – the intricate folds and framework of their ears, the lines formed by the wrinkles of their skin, their soulful eyes. “Ellie”, as I began to call my sculpture, began to take shape.
Then, in mid-October, after I had just finished building a proof-of-concept mini prototype and began building Ellie’s face and trunk, my father suffered a series of strokes. Sadly, my father passed away a few weeks later. In the midst of flying to and from Vegas to be with my family, and assuming responsibility of my mother’s household and well-being – my ceramics class became a refuge, working with my hands became therapy for my grief, and Ellie became the embodiment of the avalanche of emotions I experienced at the time. Finally, at the end of February 2014, Ellie emerged from the kiln, my first ceramic sculpture in over 20 years.
Ellie now hangs proudly in our home. A presence in my everyday, Ellie reminds me of a very challenging time in my life and that, with perseverance – grace can emerge from adversity.
photo credit: michael cinque