Excavating & 3D Printing Local Native Clays: Exploring Duality in Sculpture

This innovative and collaborative project exists at the intersection of art and science. DiG explores notions of duality in geography and two building methods using local native dug clay utilizing both the hand and the machine to make ceramic abstract sculpture.

In 2022 and 2023 I received a generous grant of over $30,000 from the Dietrich Inchworm Grant for Creativity at Hamilton College to support DiG. For over seventeen years my studio practice has been divided across geographies of New York State, Central New York and downstate in Brooklyn or Queens, and for over a year, the South Shore of Long Island. I bounce back and forth between these geographies regularly. This duality has made its way into my psyche, and as an artist I am greatly inspired and influenced by my surroundings. I’m actively engaged in an investigation of the nature-made and human-made and how it influences my perspectives on the three-dimensional world we reside in. This geographical divide has also manifested into formal dichotomies in my sculptures, specifically between the geometric and the organic, the smooth and textural, and presence and absence.

I’ve been digging clay from over a dozen distinct geographical sites this year, often with more than one clay body in close proximity to another. Clay processing is an intensive and laborious process which is followed by testing the plasticity, shrinkage, and color. Simultaneously, I’ve also been setting aside a chunk from each dig and 3D scanning this with an Artec Spider 3D scanner. Importing these files into Blender and Ultimaker Cura to then be exported to my 3D Potterbot 3D clay printer is a way to infuse part of the physical site/source of material into the sculptures I am creating.

I wish to express my sincerest appreciation for this grant as it has offered new and exciting ways for me to work collaboratively with peers across disciplines, with an alumna, and current students. I am collaborating with artists Margaret Boozer, Jackie Brown, and geologist Sean Tvelia. Special thanks also to students Noah Jones, Shelly Cao, Dani Bernstein, and Scout Winer for their assistance in my studio processing clay.