Play-doh squishes and cracks as I work it into clay paintings that are at once colorful abstractions and aerial views of the land. The cracks that I sometimes fill are reminiscent of the Japanese art of Kintsugi. They speak to healing what’s broken while embracing imperfections.
The tactility of the clay is like therapy as I mush it in my hands. Play-doh began as a wallpaper cleaner, a domestic tool for every housewife. It evolved into a play-thing for children. By transforming it into Art (with a capital A), I’m advocating for the importance of mothers and children, blurring the line between craft and art.
Born of my Artist Residency in Motherhood (2015-2019), this series uses play-doh in collaboration with my daughter to create color studies. This was a playful way back to art-making after motherhood, which for me was completely life altering.
Attachment parenting meant for me that naptime happened on top of me with no chance to rush off to the studio to create while she slept. After carrying her inside me for nearly 10 months, I then carried her in a wrap or carrier for many hours each day for another year and beyond. My whole being became Mother, and my Artist self faded away…until I pulled it back, starting with play-doh.
The way the play-doh dries and cracks reminds me of crevasses, waterways, branches. It forces me to forfeit some control, just as ice has done in my past work.