Trash Plates and Trash

All of these pieces are inspired by the French Renaissance potter, Bernard Palissy. His large ornamental plates and platters were decorated with the flora and fauna of his immediate environs, often cast from live specimens. My plates include things I pick up on walks, then recreate in clay. I think of them as portraits of a place in time, where things that have been thrown away regain value through processes of observation and making.

Covid 2019
Covid plate (aka Fuck 2020)

I wanted to make something reflective of the outrageous chaos and wreckage of 2020, whose devastations we continue to feel: these are imagined regenerations and recolonizations of covid trash, with a few stray fossilized souvenirs from the Mar-a-lago gift shoppe.Gloves and mask, hydrox cookies, virus balls/pods, worms, straws, shells, Mar-A-Lago matches, pebbles…

No piece is attached, providing endless play.

Terra cotta

Trash Plate 2018
Trash Walk, South Philly, 2018

This is the first plate I made from elements picked up on a walk. I like the tension of pairing man-made garbage with the detritus of the natural world. Even in death, the colors of advertising remain true.

Terra cotta

Credit None, trash plate
Credit None, 2018

Again, a local walk around my neighborhood produced this assemblage on sex, money and death.

Terra cotta

Weakfish Special trash plate
Weakfish Special, 2019

It saddens me no end that the plastic pollution we create can now be found in the tiniest cells of all living organisms. This coupled with over-harvesting means mass extinction. The Weakfish, once plentiful in the mid-Atlantic, is already well on its journey to existing only as a souvenir. How do we find our way back to being respectful partners to the natural world.


Walk on Wye Island ceramic plate
A Walk on Wye Island, 2019

I was lucky to visit Wye Island Sanctuary this past Spring before Covid-19 restrictions set in. The air was fresh with the bitter fragrance of rotting Osage fruit. The elements are assembled but not fixed to the underlying plate, painted with a map of the place.

Terra cotta

Here’s some of the work in context with other clay trash, at 8 Women Create, a show held at Eberle Studios and Gallery in Pittsburgh in 2018.