Expressive life-sized ceramic sculptures by artist Nancy Thorne-Chambers capture the magic of a child’s imagination. Learn more about the artist on her website.
Someone once said, “Nancy’s fingers exude emotion and magic as they intuitively coax bricks of clay into intimate sculptures that touch my soul.”
I am truly humbled by these words. At the heart of each of my creations, from the vision in my mind to a final finish, I strive to own the importance of capturing a life-like quality that speaks to the wonderment of relationships and offers a sense of story within those relationships.
My sense of story began as a very young child when I was forced from one family with siblings to another with none. Desperately needing to fit in, to survive a new way of living, I watched people’s faces for outward expressions which gave me clues to possible inward feelings. I also took to the comfort of colorful storybooks and began creating imaginary worlds of friends and characters who would understand me and love me.
Today, as an adult, I combine many years of experiences, learning and personal joy into creating characters I would like to know—characters, animals and human figures who appear comfortable in their world and are somehow able to touch the souls of the people who view them.
My original handbuilt ceramic diorama, A Story Place, took more than two years to complete. One by one, as each animal figure seemed satisfied to be part of something larger and meaningful, a general theme took shape. A woodland picnic? No. A tea party? No. Finally, I visualized a girl, a young girl like I once was, reading a storybook and imagining herself in a magical place free from adversaries and loneliness.
The diorama includes three full size trees with 1,500 leaves, numerous ferns, thirty-plus animals and insects and a stack of storybooks. The installation was featured for many months at the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) and is now on display at our local mall, wanting a permanent home. Ten pieces have been duplicated life-size in bronze and are now being enjoyed by children and adults at a local park.
Nurturing Peace is another hand-built ceramic sculpture. It stands 25” tall and is presently being 3-D scanned, printed and poured in bronze. The finished bronze will be 32” tall. This creation is my plea for greater harmony in today’s world.
The Visitor is a project still in progress. In this diorama, a full-sized great grandmother and great grandson will be sharing family photos. The great grandmother is finished, while the boy, yet to be completed, will stand next to her looking intently at the old photos. A shoe box full of pictures, some strewn around, will add fun to the piece. All in all, this work will depict a close and meaningful relationship which will help bridge their generation gap.
These examples of my work show the importance I place on depicting meaningful relationships. My life as a mother, grandmother, mental health therapist and social activist have influenced how I view life and how necessary being touched by creative works can contribute to a richer understanding of our world and each other.