This month we honor the work of ceramics artist Deborah Finley, a long time resident of Nevada. Deborah taught ceramics courses at Great Basin College and was a special education and art teacher working in the Elko County School District. Her life experiences also include a career as dispatcher and computer technician for the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Ms. Finley attended Cottey College, the University of Washington, and earned her masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“My ceramic work has always been inspired by nature,” Deborah Finley says. “My dad was an exploration geologist. He was always explaining the earth’s formation and scientific processes. For me, working with clay that is derived from the earth is an easy step to connecting the earth with my art. Many of my pieces are inspired by the colors, textures, shapes, and landforms I have observed in the natural environment. Clay and what I can create with it, dominate my art life. A literal example of this connection would be my ceramic molds inspired by the playa in the Black Rock Desert. The Black Rock Desert is a semiarid region dominated by playa and lava beds. The silt playa, 100 miles north of Reno, encompasses more than 300,000 acres. Playas are often formed from dry lake beds, which periodically fill with water. Once the water evaporates, the silt shrinks and cracks. Deb Finley explains she creates her sculpture by taking molds of the playa. She pressed clay onto molds to stimulate the cracks and crevices of the playa, then interpreted her impressions of the remote desert land and created tiles and basin shapes which originated from these molds. It is a technique she learned during the Friends of Black Rock- High Rock Artistin-Residence Program. My molds are very lifelike and realistic. A true reflection of earth science, captured in art.