Artist’s Statement, About the Work


The Elemental Altar – Artist’s Statement
by Paul. D. Goodman.
October 2018

This art exhibit is about the elements and though them, my beliefs and my connection to nature. When I first started at San Jose State University, I was mostly a painter. Although I had created some woodcrafts and ceramics I had not found a favorite medium with which to express myself. I learned ceramics and jewelry and my work began to grow.  It developed further as I learned woodworking and large metal working and I realized that my best art is physical. Shaped though my hands rather than painted images,  I think spatially and though my mind I can use what I have learned to create that which speaks to me.

I believe greatly in the power of the earth and the spirit of locations having meaning. I draw upon the beliefs of many ancient and modern cultures and religions which focus on the four elements of earth, water, fire, and air. I drew much of my understanding from the Greek, Wiccan, Celtic, Egyptian, and Japanese cultures and artistic expressions. However, I freely adapt their concepts to fit my view of the elements. I particularly focus on Mother Earth and Father Sky and the places in the world that represent and speak to the elements. I view elements particularly in the pattern of earth, water, fire, air. I see parts of myself though elemental attributes and am aware of my ties to them. For example, in myself I feel the steadfastness of the earth, perseverance of water, passion of fire, and the wind’s ability to change.

In this exhibit, I will demonstrate my beliefs. I hope to benefit by contact with viewers and critics, to learn their ideas about how they view the elements. In this show, I have created an altar to the elements of earth, water, fire, and wind expressed through both designs and materials. I created a design that symbolizes each element for me both in the carvings upon the table top and the ceramic pieces. The four copper bowls are offerings to each element: dirt and an ash seed for the earth, water from Crater Lake, basalt rock for water, feathers from my pet birds for air, ash from the wood from which I crafted the table, and obsidian rock for fire. The two sides of the room are to be mirror images of the elements. The ceramic represents how the earth is and the altar stands in for me. The other way I represent the elements is in the materials themselves with wood for earth, ceramic (stone) for water, bronze for fire, and steel (sword) for wind.

A poem I created as a child still resonates with me: Fire, Water, Wind, and Earth, Bring this spell back to its birth, Raise the fire, wind, and sword, Bring it back to its very lord. Though I have changed much since I created this poem, it ties back to my roots and thus has a place in this show.

Statement of Purpose 

I am developing my art through experience and experiment. During my studies at Foothill College, and San Jose State University, I have explored different media: from ceramics, to jewelry, to painting and wood crafting. In my art, I express elemental and environmental designs through the shape of a crescent. In my current work, I use more organic designs such as how a crescent flows from one curve into another even when the lines are segmented. I also use elements such as water, wind, lightning, earth, fire, and many others in my designs as the basis for my patterns. I primarily work in ceramics as the throwing of pots and bowls is meditative, and the act of carving and painting the pieces with underglaze allows me to express my detailed thoughts into the work. This is how I view the form of the crescent, the curve being meditative and the point where the shape ends being the point of detail in my work.

About Ceramics, Clays and Glazes Used

About Clay and Ceramics

Ceramics are one of the most ancient materials used by humans. High fired clay is durable, food safe, dishwasher and microwave and oven safe. As with all ceramics, aggressive thermal shock or impact will damage the piece. Don’t take a piece from the freezer then put it in a hot oven, or drop it on a concrete floor!

Clays Used

Paul D. Goodman’s ceramic art is made of high-fired clay, for example:

  • B-Mix, fired at Cone 10
  • B-Mix with Sand Laguna, fired at Cone 10
  • Dark Brown Laguna, fired at Cone 10

Glazes Used

The most common glazes used in Paul D. Goodman’s ceramic art are:

SJSU Celadon SJSU Iron Yellow SJSU John’s Black SJSU Kooks Blue
SJSU Mamo White SJSU Navy Speckled Blue SJSU Ohata SJSU Oribe
SJSU Pete’s Red SJSU Shino SJSU Sink White SJSU Two Tone Tenmoku
SJSU Weathered Bronze Western 8500 Cone 10 Clear Transparent Brushing Glaze Western 8503 Royal Blue Gloss Brushing Glaze / Gloss Western 8504 Jellybean Brushing Glaze
Western 8505 Soft Yellow / Gloss Western 8506 Red / Gloss Western 8510 Serpentine Western 8511 Celadon Gloss Brushing Glaze
Western 8512 Iron Cascade Western 8513 Turquoise Matte Western 8514 Smokey Blue Gloss Brushing Glaze Western 8515 Sandstone Matte
Western 8516 Oilspot Brushing Glaze Western 8517 Tenmoku Brushing Glaze Western 8518 Ohata Red Western 8519 Silicon Valley Rutile Brushing Glaze
Western 8524 Woo Blue Western 8522 White Matte Brushing Glaze . .

Following Up

  • Email questions to: paul.dickinson.goodman at gmail dot com

  • Upcoming and past exhibits are listed on Paul D. Goodman’s Resume

6 thoughts on “Artist’s Statement, About the Work

  1. Pingback: Paul: Artist’s Statement | Paul's Element

  2. Paul, I called and chatted with your dad today and he gave me your blog. Nice to see the work you are doing! Dozens of pots per day – wow! All the best to you and selling your variety of work(s). Aggie

  3. Pingback: BFA Project – The Elemental Altar | Paul's Element

  4. Pingback: BFA Bronze and Copper, Ceramics | Paul's Element

  5. Pingback: Elemental Altar open, SJSU Sanders Gallery | Paul's Element

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