Artist's Statement

Sally Myers

“Keep a green tree in your heart and perhaps a singing bird will come.” (Chinese proverb)

My work is inspired by plants and animals, traditional folk art, and African art. My sculpture is the result of combining my formal education in art and my intuition. I want my artwork to embody a respectful and joyous relationship with nature, and especially to reflect the spirit of natural places where there are no people as Wallace Stevens did in his poem titled Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird. Here is one verse from that poem.

I do not know which to prefer
The beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes.
The blackbird whistling
Or just after.

I work in both steel and clay. I learned to weld and forge steel, and in the process fell in love with the way even the thickest steel moves when heated. As I heat and bend the steel, I know that after it cools, it will retain its memory of the time it was heated and able to bend. Clay is magical in some of the same ways as steel: the moist clay moves easily in your hands and the final piece directly reflects the way the moist clay was formed and handled.

Some of the artworks you see here began with pieces of scrap steel. You will see some that began with steel rings from a scrap yard. I love everything about these rings: the uneven shape, the empty space inside, the opportunity to add objects at the top, bottom and sides, the material - steel - to which I can weld other steel shapes, the opportunity to display them outside where they develop a beautiful rust patina. Even though these rings are from a manufacturing process, they acquire a natural feeling after I add steel birds, flower-like bell shapes, leaves, branches, and vines.

I usually make more than one work on a subject. This self-imposed restriction allows me experiment with new ideas, occasionally fail, and begin again. Making a series of works enables me to re-visit decision points, answering the question "I wonder what would happen if I . . ." by making another similar but different work.

My artwork reflects my relationship with nature and I hope it invites you to contemplate your own. The gestures, forms and textures of the animals and plants I make are not carefully rendered in detail but instead are hinted at and simplified. Through this simplification I hope I have captured something that rings true about them. Though the steel is now rigid, the clay fired, and the gestures fixed in place, I hope you have a feeling that you might suddenly see one of these birds turning its head or taking flight.