Monica Wood – Visual Artist
Treasures in Earthern Vessels
by Sharon Furrate Bailey
Q: What drew you to pottery as an artistic medium?
A: In 2008, several friends and I attended a Christmas shopping event in a south Baton Rouge neighborhood. When I saw the pottery created by local potter Becky Nash, I literally cried. In 2009, I signed up to take classes with Becky, thus beginning my journey into the discovery of working with clay.
Q: What would you say is your artist statement … why you create?
A: As an artist, my desire is to capture beauty, elegance and peace in my work, be it pottery, painting or floral design. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t seeking a new creative adventure or learning experience.
I began my venture in the world of pottery in 2009 and found that I enjoy the creative process of hand-building works. I use stoneware clay and especially love working with white clay, as it brings out the brightness and pure colors of the glazes when fired. My pieces are thin compared to a lot of pottery, and I often incorporate metal leafing into the design. Both add elegance to the work.
Aside from my love of hand-building, I explored painting in watercolor and acrylics. Through this part of my journey, I discovered the beautiful world of oil paints. I was hooked and began serious study with professional artist Elayne Kuehler. I believe in painting from life whenever possible. No camera can capture all that the human eye can see or the emotions the heart can feel. The beauty of light, shadow and color in the natural world makes my heart sing and frequently brings tears of joy. Choosing items for a still life and setting up the composition are part of my enjoyment of the creative process.
As I continue my journey in discovering the artist within, my goal is to connect with the God of all creation, to express His beauty and bring Him glory in what I create. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. – (Ephesians 2:10)
Q: Do you feel sculpting and painting is a spiritual gift?
A: I believe God is the creator of all things and that man, being created in His image (Genesis 1), is given the gift of creativity. Exodus 31:1-6 tells us that God “filled Bezalel with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.” James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above.” I believe any knowledge, skill, or ability I have is a gift from the Father through the Spirit.
I also believe the creative process is much more than artistic ability. It includes business decisions, organizing, managing a family, the way we love those that God brings into our personal world, and how we bring laughter and joy into the lives of others. Anyone who has the desire to paint or make pottery can learn to do so. All it takes is study, discipline and lots of practice. But it is most fulfilling for me when I connect with God in order to express His beauty and bring Him glory through the work.
Q: You are known for your pottery. Describe the types of pieces you create. What are your favorite pieces and why?
A: I make bowls, trays of various sizes, and vases. I enjoy doing pieces that “evolve” throughout the process. I might begin with a particular thought in mind, but as I manipulate the piece, certain curves and angles might take it in a different direction. I particularly loved a very large bowl I made this past summer. As I added and overlapped various pieces of clay, I began to “see” the final piece. It was a delight to have that “aha” moment!
Two of my favorite pieces hang in my home. They were works of pottery attached to wooden panels and created for Transformation 2014 Visual Art Display , a group art exhibit at The Chapel on the Campus. The pieces are titled Beauty out of Brokenness and Lord, Shape My Soul.
Q: You are talented at floral arranging and creating beautiful table displays. As a painter, what are some of your favorite flowers?
A: Yes, I love painting flowers! I love gardening and floral arranging. I actually “talk” to my flowers. I believe artists are frequently drawn to paint things they are familiar with or that make their heart sing on a regular basis. Some of my favorite flowers are tulips, peonies (which, of course, we cannot grow in the South), antique roses and orchids.
Q: Do you have a favorite book of the Bible or scripture?
A: I love the book of Habakkuk in the Hebrew Bible, three short but powerful chapters. Chapter 3:17-19 says, “ Though the fig tree should not blossom, and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail, and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold, and there be no cattle in the stalls, YET I will exult (sing with joy) in the Lord. I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet (sure footed), and makes me walk on my high places.” In 1980 I wrote in my Bible, “God, let me meet all of life’s circumstances with a YET!” I don’t achieve it all the time, but it is my goal.
Q: What would you like our readers to know about your personal life and journey as a creative person?
A: First and foremost, I am very blessed to be married to my biggest supporter and encourager, who is willing to do anything he can to help me succeed. I was almost 60 when I began to explore the world of painting and pottery. My journey to discover the artist within is a joy when all goes right and you have those “aha” moments, but there is also the battle with the inner voice that says “your work is not good enough” or “what makes you think you can do this?” when I struggle with a work. I have a perfectionist side, so I have to frequently revisit my artist statement and remind myself why I do what I do.
Q: Where can one find your pottery and paintings?
A: My pottery is available at Tay James Décor and Gifts (Highland Place). You can also contact me directly at email@example.com or at (225) 769-1131.
Sharon Furrate Bailey grew up in Alexandria, La., and moved to Baton Rouge to attend LSU. She earned a B.A. in English Literature in 1990. She attends Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church. Sharon has been in the field of marketing, sales and public relations since 1996. She is a gifted artist and has been a columnist since 2005. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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