“You put yourself in too small a box, my love”.

When someone tells you a truth that your mind, body and soul are ready to hear, the words can become an energy that you feel through your pores. They swirl in your head, fill your chest, open your heart and rumble in your gut. The moment seems to crystallize. I can still feel it.

I’ve lived most of my life daydreaming about a really big life, but actually living in a small box. Being an artist has always been a dream and I’ve always been able to find really good reasons to keep me from getting into a studio; no space, my kids needed me, I couldn’t make enough money. Then I had the space, my kids were in their twenties and I had a limited window where I didn’t need to generate much income. But there I was telling my husband that I doubted myself and wasn’t sure that I had what it took to make it as an artist.

“You put yourself in too small a box, my love”.

I could see the box, a tiny box created by my definition of Evie. The box was constructed of words like “can’t finish a project”, “phony”, “self-involved”, “always falls short of expectations”, “terrible business person”, “nothing to say”, “just making decorations”, “just not quite good enough”. Then the sculptures started appearing – my hand just coming out of a small box, me climbing out of a small box, me trying to climb in a small box. I knew this was all too blunt, too obvious, too clumsy, but I knew he was right and that I might have found something to say.

Why do so many good ideas come to us in the shower? I think it might be the space, the space created in your mind as the warm water relaxes the body, washing over us and quieting the need for anything – no words necessary, room for creation. And there in the shower I saw the whole show, my new series, the next year’s work.

For months I’ve been making boxes, fairly intricate, leather-like boxes. The one for my son was full of fish. He just graduated with a degree in Marine Biology. Another one for my daughter was a small and delicate crackly white raku piece with a beautiful coppery inside. Others were bigger and covered with vines. I’ve also been working on what I call landscapes, both wall and table top pieces inspired by a trip to British Columbia where the mountains rise above large bodies of water and are crisscrossed by lower land masses creating an overlay effect that I found easy to conjure up with my clay slabs. These landscapes have most recently become three-dimensional, rising like towers, creating a different image as the viewer circles.

There in the shower I saw my boxes start small and get bigger, some more complex, until one is layered on top like one of the landscapes. The next piece is a landscape on the wall, the transition easy to follow. The landscapes then evolve from the wall back to the pedestal, the final piece rising at least 5’ from the floor. While there seems to be no connection between that first small box and the final tower, the overall effect is to be carried through, starting in a box too small and evolving out and up, into this life-size piece with 360° of possibilities.

…fast forward 2 years. A lot has happened, but not this show. The good news is that it’s more possible now than ever. I’ve started on the boxes, already have a couple of the middle pieces and plans for the really big one. And now more than ever I’m ready to present this idea, share my evolution with the hope of bringing at least one person along. Let one person walk through this show and experience what I felt when my husband shared his insight and the walls of my small box will crumble, maybe for good, but at least for a few weeks.