For my final project, I decided to create an abstract piece of work from a poem by Walt Whitman called Calvary Crossing the Ford. I have had my final project thought out and drawn since the first few weeks of class, even before we were provided the parameters of the end project. I chose this poem because it was the first poem, that when I read the words, I actually felt connected to what was transpiring. The poem touched me to the core because of my personal experiences. I first read this poem in an American Literature class. We had to read the poem during class, and then discuss what we read. I remember reading the poem and being able to see the guidon flowing in the wind, hear the rattle and clinking of bridles, and see the weary bodies of the soldiers as they crossed the ford. While I was reading the poem, it struck me that the troops were coming back from a campaign. The soldiers were sitting wearily in their saddles, slumped forward in exhaustion, as they let the horses cross the ford. Their thoughts centering on returning to their post, their barracks or their home to recover, refresh and heal. I remember the discussion we had in class, because the class was split down the middle with half of the students thinking the soldiers were off to war and the other half saying the soldiers were coming home from battle.
I empathized with the soldier sitting wearily in the saddle. There were times when I came back from a two week to a month field exercise, where I could not shower for days on end, would be up for 48 hours straight, and was drained from focusing all my attention on ensuring my soldiers and equipment were taken care of, that I felt a bone-deep weariness . I just kept telling myself to just keep putting one foot in front of the other to get the job done.
The main focus of my piece is the individual sitting on the horse. I wanted to convey the weariness of the soldier with the slumped shoulders and bent head. I wanted the focus on the soldier and what the soldier is feeling. The horse is just a body and the tail and head. I did not want viewer to focus on the horse exclusively. The white I used on the horse hints to the viewer the horse was a pinto. The slip colors I used on the solider are meant to depict the uniform era of the late 1800s.
For a long time I have wanted to do a series of art work, with metal and glass, from my time in the army. I have wanted to somehow incorporate my experience with my love of metals and glass but I have never had any idea on how to start with my series. The ceramics final project has given me a starting point to continue with the military series I truly want to work on.