Jenny Mastin

Artist’s Statement

My Fine Art and Craft studies began in the fiber arts over 40 years ago, but transitioned over those years while teaching art towards clay…to ceramic sculpture in particular. I find that clay anchors me to the earth and sends me other places. It informs my sense of place in the world and fires my imagination in a way no other material can. Clay comforts and inspires me. It connects me to my collective ancestors, bonds me to my clay contemporaries, and constantly challenges my understanding of its potential possibilities for future aspirations.

Inspiration for my sculpture stems from my longstanding curiosity and interest in anthropology, art, and nature. Some of my greatest influences have been the primal forms and stories of traditional cultures. Indigenous artists were masters of utilizing materials from their natural resources, as well as materials collected and manufactured by others outside their borders. Each form, whether a totem, mask, shield, body art, or figurine was created as a means of connecting human beings to each other and to the natural and spirit worlds. These works created a sacred communion or dialogue, making it possible to bridge boundaries between the physical and spiritual dimensions.

I see my work as an exploration on how universal forms, ideas, and traditions evolved as integral components of rituals and influenced civilizations over time. That exploration continues to lead me toward a deeper understanding of how the daily experiences of traditional cultures, and ours, were/are interwoven with our natural environment and spiritual concepts.

My process is strictly intuitive. Stories develop as forms appear in the wet clay. The work will begin with a seed of an idea based on a cultural myth, folklore or legend, or on my observations of daily life to convey my own personal narrative. Each piece is a hand built, sculptural, low fired clay form. The surfaces may be impressed and/or incised with a compilation of natural and manufactured textures, patterns, and symbols to convey a story or idea. Color is incorporated predominately through the application of under glazes, oxide stains, and colored slips which may be finished with heat infused encaustic wax. Metal, hemp, raffia, and other materials may be added to elaborate and exaggerate the sculptural narrative.