In The Studio

AUDIO (RA:13) "I like to have beauty all around me . . . "

Laney Oxman lives in a very small, charming town in Virginia, with her husband, an architect. For decades, they've been collecting all sorts of art. Most notably, Laney has been amassing dozens of images of herself. They stare down at her from every wall.

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Walking into her home, you get almost dizzy from the profusion of wild sights, colors and textures.

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The piece she created for the White House show has much in common with the style of her recent works. Its title, Feminine Nostalgia, gives a clue to her creative outlook.

VIDEO (3 MB) || AUDIO (RA:15)

Laney Describes Her Work in Some Detail

"This piece originally started as a triptyck. It's a bas relief, and I've decided to make it a triptych which means it's going to be hung in three separate pieces. And it's all made out of a lump of clay. I do the drawings first, and then I add my relief. This has just come out of the kiln. Now I'm doing my underglazing. Everything that I do has a figure, at least, of one woman on it.

And it has underglazed pencil which is a pencil, it's a special pencil that does not burn out in the kiln. So I like to have my work really painterly-looking, so I will kind of sketch in these lines that will stay that way. I don't want it to be flat. I want it to be extremely painterly. And this is a yellow underglaze, since the commission is for a person with blonde hair.

The underglazes do not have any shine to it, so this will go on, the whole piece will be painted as a full composition. There'll be flowers in the background, there'll be a pattern on the rug, all the fruit will be filled in, and then I will go with a clear glaze, and it'll come out very shiny, and that is my third step in the process. My process goes from four to eight steps in the firings.

It's done actually in layers. I start with the highest firing, and I go all the way down to the lowest firing. So as I said, this was step number, what we consider step number one, working my wet clay into a relief. Step number two, doing my underglazing. Step number three, doing my glazing. Then I add photographic decals--but they're silk screened, but instead of their being silk-screened in ink, they're silk screened in China paints and enamels. And I have my custom ones as well as commercial ones. Most of them were made in West Germany or Stoke-on-Trent. And I will go in, and I will collage these areas.

And after that firing, which fires to about 1450 degrees, the areas that have a lot of carving in it will be gilded.

She says her work is never fully planned out, but takes advantage of the moment.

AUDIO (RA:14)


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