Virginia Dotson | Sunlight (#4)
Virginia Dotson

born 1943
Resides in Scottsdale, Arizona

Biography     Statement     Ask the Artist     In the Studio
Virginia Dotson's work has been exhibited at the Fine Arts Museum of the South in Mobile, Alabama, the University Art Collection at Arizona State University and the Dowse Art Museum in Lower Hutt, New Zealand. Her work has attracted the attention of Woodturning Magazine and Woodwork Magazine. In 1993, her bowls were on display in Munich, Germany. Dotson's art has been seen throughout Europe on a tour sponsored by the USIA. She attended the School of Art at Arizona State University, Tempe, and Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.


I am intrigued by the features of the Southwestern landscape, and what they reveal about the past: traces of the sea which once covered the land...chronological arrangements of rock layers in many colors...changing compositions of light and shadow...and the cross-bedding lines left in sandstone by ancient winds. The layered patterns change over time as wind and water shape the surfaces.

My laminated wood vessels are an expression of these landscape images. I shape the layered wood to reveal compositions of patterns which change as I work, and change again with the observer's perspective.

Ask the Artist

Where do you get the ideas for your work?

The Arizona landscape is a major source of new ideas for my work. The patterns formed by the multicolored rock layers change over time, as wind and water reshape the surfaces. These patterns show me what I can do with layered wood.

Do you work alone on your craft, or with others?

I have worked alone for the past nine years. Recently, however, I have been creating some collaborative works with several artists who work in different media, and this has been quite exciting.

Do you ever teach, or take on apprentices?

I give workshops/demonstrations from time to time.

What's the most exciting part of creating your works?

The two most exciting parts of my work are, first, visualizing a wonderful new idea--which often comes in a flash; and second, seeing the idea realized.

What sort of technology do you use in your work? Has the technology of your craft changed dramatically over the past 100 years?

My craft is a blend of ancient technology and modern chemistry, modulated by the character of natural wood. Wood lathes were used by the Egyptians three thousand years ago. My laminated vessels depend on a wide range of very strong adhesives, most of which have been developed quite recently.

Do you have any advice for somebody just starting out?

My advice to someone just starting out is to try to find someone to learn from, even if all you can do is watch. The best way to learn about turning is to go to a one or two-week hands-on workshop with a professional turner. Information and scholarships are available to members of the American Association of Woodturners, 667 Harriet Avenue, Shoreview, MN 55126 (612-484-9094).

Can you share a "secret of the trade" with us--something nobody else knows or that you found out only after years of experience? Put another way--what do you wish somebody had told you when you were just starting out that might have saved you hours of wasted effort?

I love to find design solutions that lie outside the rules. Specific recommendations of proportion and balance are among my favorite targets.

What are we missing by experiencing your work through the Internet and not seeing/hearing/feeling/smelling/touching it in person?

One way of experiencing a fine turned wood vessel is by holding it and sensing its balance, when all the parts are in harmony. This is not available through the Internet.

Judy B. Dales Patrick W. Dragon