About a year ago a close friend referred to my “two daughters”, art and my actual kid, Anya. He nailed it. Two of my biggest loves who take up the majority of my brainspace.
My art practice is a spiritual practice to me and I think of it like a conversation with something a lot larger than my small self. The best, most nourishing work evolves slowly without any rigid end goal. This takes the courage to be vulnerable. I don’t think my ego always loves this process, and can start to fuss and evade but like a meditator, I just push through the inner tantrum, feel what needs to be felt, and relax into the process again.
I used to make large, nearly life size torsos. There was a catharsis I felt working on a big piece that required muscle and sweat, but motherhood changed this. The narrowing of life that comes with having a small child was quickly reflected in the art I was making. I started with fiber work that I could carry around and put down for long periods of time, but as Anya grew, clay made more sense again. I can see that the intimacy that came with our relationship extended to the new work I started making.
The tenderness involved in sculpting with porcelain really fit. I don’t think the same people who liked my older, large and colorful work, respond to this newer sculpture. This work is very quiet.
This fall, my “kid” went to college, and we’ve lived in separate houses for the first time since she was conceived. Along with mourning, there’s been a space opening up. I can see the work starting to fill that space. Parenting takes a tremendous amount of psychic energy, so I needed my work to be tiny and focused, but now, I’m feeling the pull of complexity and possibly scale. I’m excited to see what comes next!
I’ve been blessed to send work all over the country and beyond and enjoy the thrill it brings to vicariously travel to new places. However, this can be a lonely road. One of the reasons I was drawn to the Small Works show is that it’s local and in such a beautifully cared for space. I want to feel my roots as well as fly.
See more of my work on my website: www.robinwhitemansculpture.com and on Instagram: @robinwhiteman.
Small Works 2022 includes 200 works of art by 200 artists from 32 states and runs through Friday, December 23, 2022.