My career as a ceramic artist is grounded both in my life experiences and in the fundamental values that I have come to cherish as I lived through these experiences. I was born in Israel in 1940 to a couple of intense parents—steeped in the folk traditions, the music, the aromas, and the landscapes of the Balkans—after they had abandoned their home country and made an Israeli Kibbutz their home. That Kibbutz, situated on a stony hill overlooking Mount Carmel, first connected me to the Earth. In that Kibbutz, I walked on hard gravel and smelled its dryness; only to walk on it again, up to my knees in mud, smelling its wetness; only to walk on it again to smell the early flowers sprouting out of the now drying gravel. It was these early experiences on the Carmel hills that made Earth my medium of choice. Not concrete, nor glass, nor plastic, nor steel—all materials associated with cities and their artifacts—spoke to me as clearly as the clay of the Earth, a material so alive with possibilities, so warm to the touch, so playful, so rich, and so ancient.
During those years of growing up in the new State of Israel, I did not just experience the Earth in its natural beauty, but also as a repository of ancient history and culture. The Earth told of ancient tribes and ancient kingdoms, and of ancient women making clay pots and jugs whose shards littered the earth under my feet as I crisscrossed the young country on long hikes with my comrades in the youth movement. The Earth, I learned, was the material repository of our story just as the Bible was the spiritual repository of that same story. I was fascinated by archaeologists that made the story come alive as they held a few pieces of clay in their cracked sun–baked hands. It was only the clay artifacts, they said, that could be accurately dated. They could tell how old a building site was simply by looking at a few pottery shards there. Weaving, basketry, pottery—those practical arts mastered by ancient women—drew me towards them.
In 2007, at my solo show titled Dust to Dust–The Clay Stays in the Rhonda Schaller Studio in Chelsea, my fragments began to organize themselves into ensembles. I juxtaposed them in small groups, occasionally adding found objects, to create an otherworldly dreamlike texture, a timeless archaeology of inner experience. The assembled fragments took on the suggestive primordial shapes of a Musical Instrument, a Couple, a Bird, Prehistoric Shapes, Paleo Tools, Angels, Instruments, Specimens, Dancer, Wing, Knives, and a Necklace. From a pile of fragments there sprung out a multitude of forms that now in conjunction with each other enveloped the spaces between them to create a unique physicality of spirit that before remained dormant within them.