I spend time in Italy each year, visiting, absorbing, and making drawings around the ruins. Herds of an ancient breed of cattle and small bands or horses live together off wild grasses and the leaves of indigenous plants and shrubs that grow in the ravines, the savannas, the pasture lands around these ancient sites. Not wild, not domesticated, these animals emanate a quality I cannot name.

Part of what I do among them is study fresco tomb painting, Etruscan, Roman and Fayuum portraits of women and men, their images, scenes from their lives. In my work I explore the faces of these women and men.Working with porcelain and paint, I draw and re-draw, using my hands, brushes, chalks, and pencils to make the images. Through this work, I give to the women of history my image of them, and I draw from these ancient sites an animal to express each woman's soul, a totem, to layer myth and mystery between ancient time and how.

As I recreate them, their story becomes my story. Ancient images of women are contemporary in their gaze.

Mardi Wood, ceramist, Bolinas Ca

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