"Bringing Art to the People and People to the Arts"

On View in the Members’ Gallery Foyer at Blue Ridge Arts Center
September 17 – October 30, 2021

Deborah Girard lives in Upstate South Carolina and works at sculpting on the patio and breezeway outside my home. She also works in a climate-controlled membership clay studio in North Carolina where there are reduction and oxidation kilns for mid to high fire clay work. She has been working with clay sculptures since 2015. She uses water-bassed mid-fire stoneware and commercially made paper clay (Laguna). Her sculptures are loaded into an electric kiln and fired to cone 04 in preparation for surface decoration. She layers underglazes and stains, and fires two or more times after bisque. Recently, she’s been using a wax dust method and layering of colored waxes and acrylic paints to decorate and seal her portrait sculptures. We hope you can see her work in person at the gallery, but if you are not able to make it, we hope you’ll enjoy browsing our online gallery below.

Artist Statement

My inspiration for “Saints Among the Poultry” came from a vintage photograph of my Louisiana grandmother feeding her backyard chickens. Much of what I learned about my southern grandmother has been passed doown to me through oral story and photographs. What I sensed about my grandmother in the photo was her presence and memory of her “Catholic” faith. Another connection to the photo fell into place with a biblical verse I found, “A faith that first dwelt in your grandmother… I am sure dwells in you.” — 2nd Timothy 1:5, New Testament. The verse became relevant to the narrative unfolding.

I like making smaller sculptures called maquettes, which is a preliminary model of a larger sculpture. I like to think that I am holding an idea in my hand whenever I make one. As I work through my art project, memories of my personal experiences, and a sense of loss gives birth and direction to my project’s bearings.

Sculptures have a tangible life that originates from a 6th sense about an abstract concept stemming from the conscious and subconscious mind. Creative work connects elements of art and medium such as clay, paint on a canvas, symbols or words to an original notion. i like the word “Notion.” A dictionary describes it as “an individual’s conception or impression of something known, experienced or imagined… a vague or imperfect idea or general understanding of something.” I think a notion also has something to do with intuition.

We can map or plan a sculptural project using known methods and techniques. But the cognitive processing of memories and experience adds depth to the narrative. There is some guiding force in sculptural work, as in poetry, an awareness of synchronicity among subconscious artifacts that inform and transform us with truth.

I have been making roosters with clay for the past two years. It has been a study of form and experssion for rooster-making and learning the history and symbol of the rooster. “Saints Among the Poultry” is still in the making with new additions drying on the kiln shelf. I plan to continue adding to this series’ narrative.

You can view more of Deborah’s work on her website: paperclaycrafted.com.