1st Place recipient

Federighi, portrait

Christine Federighi

The image or symbol of a figure and house have been constant to my ideas. Very often these images have inscriptions or carvings that wrap the surface and further narrate their symbolism. I have allowed symbols to freely develop and become part of my body of work over the past ten to twelve years. I’ve come to feel that we all have personal symbols or images that we consciously or unconsciously use for any variety of reasons. We can choose to investigate those reasons and make them specific or allow the symbols to freely assemble and become visual arrangements that are ambiguous or enigmatic – something that I prefer to have-happen.

I have done some investigation of the meaning of the symbols I use and was fascinated by this definition in the Dictionary of Symbols. This body of work deals with the house-figure relationship as is always a changing metaphor for personal events. At present my relationship is building a house. Sometimes I think that I live in three houses or homes – my birth home, my spiritual home, and the home that is my dwelling. This idea seems to be expressed by the “stacked” quality of some of the pieces. Building a house is a growth process and involves different areas of learning. Aspects of the planning and physical building, such as locating a site, drilling a well, digging the foundation and constructing the framework, have become poetic metaphors for the visual form of the pieces.

Well drilling and the uncertain, precarious search for water served as a strong metaphor for the linear quality of the pieces. Auguring 120 feet into the ground to find a river becomes less a metaphor and more a fantastic image. The figures become the water or growth pushing up from the house. The figures layered with leaves are images of growth. The total piece also has the quality and awkwardness of an exotic plant with its thin pistil form. These plant-like pieces are reference to my Florida home, while the carved landscape houses and figures make reference to my relationship to the western United States. The awkward, sometimes primitive, quality of the figure underscores my interest in native american aboriginal and primitive peoples and their art. The stacked or layered qualities of all these aspects become the piece.

Technique and Construction The pieces are coil constructed from a moderately groged stoneware body and fired to cone 04. For the height of the pieces, underfiring this clay body decreases the amount of warpage. (It is very strong at 04.)

Many of the pieces, specifically the taller and more column proportioned pieces, are constructed in one piece and later carved in the leather hard stage. The stacking pieces are constructed both as separate sections and on the rod or armature. After firing, they are reassembled on the rod to check alignment. In many instances, in the case of a multiple attached piece, the bottom sections are constructed first and fired and placed on the support rod and then the remaining top sections are constructed, allowed to dry, removed from the support rod and fired.

I fire in two octagonal sectioned electric kilns that are stacked one on top of another and their height can be adjusted to the size of the pieces by either adding or taking out rings.

After firing, the pieces are sealed with a solid color painted “ground,” usually black spray paint. Oil paint is dry brushed over the surface for color and is used in a painterly way, layering one tone of color over another for a deeper and varied color quality. The oil is allowed to sufficiently dry, usually two weeks and then sealed with a clear, satin polyurethane.