Gourd Art

I discovered gourds as a medium for fine art while serving in the Peace Corps in Mali. I was irresistibly attracted to them because of their uncanny resemblance to leather.

Gourd making and decorating gourds is an ancient art form and I learned valuable techniques from the women of Mali, who pass their gourds down from generation to generation, mending every crack with reeds, leather, wire, string, wool—whatever is handy. Some nomadic tribes cherish their gourds as being more precious than gold.

In Jamaica, where I lived for five years, gourds grow on trees and are called calabash. Many myths, legends and even sorcery surround this strange fruit that has characteristics of fine wood. Its heavy weight, when green, prohibits maximum growth to a size slightly smaller than a watermelon. Often the mature shape is determined by tree limbs pressing on them that form odd contours and indentations during the growing process. Working with a calabash is challenging. The trees are not cultivated like vine gourds, but spring up spontaneously in random sites.

Mysterious influences take over when I choose a gourd and begin the transformation from object of nature to object of art. First, I seek out the utilitarian aspect and then, as an artist, I am inspired by its organic, three dimensional sculptural strength. The final result, informed by modern concepts of design, are contemporary art pieces.

Click on the images below to read more and to purchase.

"Noble Savage"

"Jezebel"

"Voyager"

 

 

Calabash Jars

"The Native"