Ideas for my sculptures come to me in the form of loose mental images. I have to put them down on paper by drawing a series of small sketches. I work and rework them until the form has evolved to a point that seems right. Then I set out making the idea in clay. I’ve always loved to work with clay because it is wonderfully tactile, completely moldable, and often forgiving. Once the material is in my hands the form continues to evolve.
I’m focused on making sculptures that deal with life — tender, whole, and new. My minimalist birds are especially peaceful to me with their elegant silhouettes, clean lines, composed posture, and pleasing proportions. They take hours to make (even the smallest ones) as I hand build each one using the coil method, and then carefully examine each bird, scraping and shaving off the irregularities in surface until the form is flawless.
My nests swirl with movement, tying them into the way they’re made — through throwing and altering them on the spinning potter's wheel. I am drawn to the contrast between the busy action of the nest and the smooth calm of the egg that rests inside it.
I make the sprouted bulbs by throwing a closed form on the wheel and then altering it by rolling it on a table or pressing and paddling it with my hands. Then I ease open a small hole in the top to attach the emerging sprout.
I feel my work has an intimacy and comfort about it, inviting viewers to touch and hold it. Nothing makes me happier than when someone feels compelled to cradle or caress one of my pieces!
Cathy Moynihan is a Boston, Massachusetts-based ceramic sculptor who specializes in hand-built birds and wheel-thrown eggs, nests, and sprouting bulbs. She received her B.A. in Fine Art from Messiah College, PA, and studied sculpture at the Appalachian Center for Crafts, TN. Later she received her Art Education Certification from Massachusetts College of Art. After spending 3 years teaching art in the public schools and 5 years working with the elderly as a recreation therapist, she has returned to her first love — working with clay. She is now a full-time artist.