Gretchen Potts Artist Statement (Bell series)

     My work reflects my struggle to find my own identity, express my feelings and accept my imperfections. I am concerned with being a different, perfect person in the eyes of others. My work expresses the difficulty of revealing the person I truly am, and being proud of the family history that made me the way I am.

     To reveal who I am, I use faces in or on bells. Some of the faces are heavily shadowed; these recall Carvaggio’s The Calling of Saint Matthew. I intend for these faces to represent the growth of self-discovery. They are emerging into the world, growing into a whole person. Other works are the faces of my family: people who are my heritage, people who represent the standards to which I live my life. The bell form represents a calling that healthy living demands. The need to know who you are and where you came from. The sound that comes from the bell reflect voices that you hear to grow or learn.

     The first Bell series consists of several bells constructed of mixed media, such as, bronze, clay, paper and wax. The image, a face emerging out of a solid mass, illustrates the struggle of the growth. Its strained, stoic look depicts the emotions of fear, hurt and anger that comes with self-discovery. Traditional bells ring for many reasons, one of which being to call attention. These bells represent a call from life that demands further growth. Obviously, because some of these bells are made of dense materials, not all of the bells ring a pleasant call. But then, neither does life.

     The Family Bell series consists of spherical convex forms of several sizes. These bells bear faces of my ancestors and words of their daily lives. They represent the growth that my family has gone through and the solid, eternal history that they created. They also depict my pride in the ancestry from which I came. The sound that these bells make represents the voice of my ancestors guiding me through life. Discovering my amazing history has played a large part in realizing who I am.

     These visual sound pieces are presented in an installation. Because this work deals with spacial and sound issues, the work is an ever changing performance piece. The installation is set up where viewers have to walk through to view the individual bells. While viewing the individual bells, some are so close together that it is inevitable that you will bump into them. This is the performance. Viewer move through, bump into, and hear the voices of the past.

     My work is a product of overcoming the fear that life brings before us. Everyday we are faced with hurt, pain, and anger. Realizing that the only way to deal with these emotions is to grow and discover where our values come from is the essential key to being content in life.

Gretchen Potts

Click here to view the Bell series