Figurative Ceramic Sculptures by Clay Artist Pamela Day Pamela Day Studio Wixom MI
Figurative Ceramic Sculptures
About Pamela Day
Imaginative, expressive and unique can describe Pamela Day's figurative ceramic work, as well as her paintings. Long working in gouache painting, and clay mediums, her work transitions from a simple colorful use of space, to textural work, low to high relief, then working her figurative characters in true, three-dimensions. She does large gouache paintings, but may also integrate he mediums to create dimensional environments for her characters.  Consistently, her paintings and clay work involve color, intricacies, and a stylistic realism. Day's work has been described as stylized-realism, a style she initially embraced when teaching her high school art students an art history lesson about the Olmec Civilization from LaVenta, Mexico, on the Gulf of Mexico, beginning in 1300 BCE.  The Olmec's created monumentally huge sculptures of the heads of their rulers. Each head was different and expressed the ruler's personality through expression and his head gear. Teaching the pinch-pot technique to her students, she had them each making heads.  Each made their own clay heads to represent an alter-ego, which, with sculpted detail and expression, would tell the viewer any number of things about them.  Doing these demonstrations for her students, over time she developed quite a number of heads of her own.  Soon, in Pamela's work the head and shoulders, and torsos appeared. A common thread in her art work and studies throughout her life has been her love of birds and bird images.  It was said by her mother that even her first spoken word was "birdie" - roll the 'r' for the full effect.  Watching out of the kitchen window, perched in her high chair in a second story flat in Detroit, Pamela had a bird's eye view of the trees and habitat of the local birds.  An impression was made and through the years erupted into her art work in various ways. Pamela's most recent series began with her examples for her students, but then grew into small busts - head and shoulders of a jester, and Renaissance characters, some with folds of clothing that are strikingly realistic.  Imaginatively, some interact with birds or have their own bird characteristics.  More recently, some have grown to full torso pieces, with arms and additional parts, clay balls, or nests, or glass eggs - made specifically for her pieces by her glass artist friend, Susan Fox.  Nature is also given a personality in her work.  Her characters are likely to have headdresses, hats or "hair" made to look quite realistically like twigs and may have in addition stylized leaves. Another influence to her sculptural and expressive facial characteristics was the clay work by artist, Robert Arneson. Examples of his very expressive and personal work - a number of self-portraits in terra cotta clay, show this influence in her clay characters.  Also there's influence from the 6th century Italians - their clay sarcophagus, The Reclining Couple. This comparison might be seen in her most recent sculpture of the couples in Cold Shoulder. The couple's relationship is defined by the looks they give one another, and the colors Pamela chose for them. All along she has found the expressive edge that gives her characters distinctive personalities.  As example, Jesters, the human Jester looks askance at the crow "jester" sitting on his shoulder with a bead in its mouth from the Jester's hat.  Each piece has a sense of emotion and an edge that makes one continue to ask questions of the meanings of her pieces - leaving room for many interpretations.  In particular, Special Relationship has us wondering, what is the story between the crow and the female character?  The crow flies so closely it appears to almost embrace her.  Is the egg in her out-stretched hand a gift from or to the crow? Or is Pamela engaging the viewer with a gift? And, then, there are eggs in the nested hand hidden behind her back.  What could those mean? Besides her style, there is the unique way in which Day finishes the surface of her characters.  To begin they are fired twice in the kiln.  Once as a normal bisque firing, and the second time with an oxide stain, this defines the textural and linear surface of the figures and their details - thus adding more depth and nuance of highlight and shadow.  Her after-fire technique is what one would find the most unique, however.  She uses Prismacolor colored pencils to color the surface, 'scrumbling' layers of colors over the surface to achieve the desired effect and depth of color. Pamela Day's work fascinatingly transcends into the world of fine art by its timeless subject matter, symbolism within each piece, the fine attention to craftsmanship, and the personal expression of each character.  Each individual work intrigues the viewer to investigate and wonder about each of the unique characters. Pamela is an active member of the Brighton Art Guild (and serves on the Guild's Board of Directors) and the Detroit Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. She chairs the committees Education Initiative and the Guild's Art at CoBACH exhibit venue, and is Exhibition Chair for the Brighton Art Guild.
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About Pamela Day