~ Robert Rosenblum
It all began with these paintings which illustrate how dogs were used in portraiture to symbolize fidelity, loyalty, and affection. I knew I would need to make a piece specifically for this course, and considered the possibility of using it as an opportunity to convey the dog in a more structured, historical, and narrative manner.
Cultural depictions of dogs in Western art extend back thousands of years to when dogs were portrayed on the walls of caves. You can track the changes in civilization and everyday life through the use of animals in art and how they were included. Representations of dogs in art became more elaborate as individual breeds evolved and the relationships between human and canine developed. Dogs were depicted to symbolize guidance, protection, loyalty, fidelity, faithfulness, watchfulness, and love.
Throughout my time making work I have always portrayed the figure, but by incorporating the dog with the human it provides a means to convey the values that I have as a person as well the ability to communicate subjects such as loyalty, belonging, space, intimacy, and companionship. Or perhaps there is within this an opportunity to tell a story and/or have a sentimental narrative through the metaphor of the dog and human.
During the years I have spent as a ceramic artist I’ve always seen my work as a three dimensional canvas and a surface to decorate and create narrative within. Ceramics has the capacity to physically interact with peoples lives and represent a sense of community, which initially drew me to this beautiful material. If you have ever owned a dog or walked one downtown, you also know that dogs help build community. They provide moments to talk to strangers, make new friends, and form groups with fellow dog lovers. Dogs are their own community. And through the imagery on my work I hope to reflect a sense of belonging through the visual metaphor of human and dog. The sense of home, ultimate loyalty, and the lifetime bond that we find within our canine companions. While they do play a canonic role in the history of art; dogs in present day also play a significant role in our personal lives and the relationships around us.