Adventures in a clay mine

April 26, 2019

Where I grew up on the edge of the suburbs south of Chicago, the developed town ended a couple of blocks from my house and there began a wonderland for kids. This is where, in my eight year old eyes, adventure began. An expanse of brushy wasteland stretched out, bisected by a freight train line. These were the days when kids could roam the neighborhood at will and I did. I would venture out across that field, crawl into a culvert underneath the railroad track to feel the thrill of the steam train rumbling overhead. Farther on was the forbidden zone - a clay mine attach to a brick factory. It was huge - huge enough to have its own railway with tram cars to haul the clay up. And the walls were steep - almost vertical on our side.But I remember finding a way, by myself to scramble down into that pit, gather a few chunks of the yellow clay and then claw my way up again, wondering all the time if this might be my last day on earth, or if my mother would find out. She must have known though, because I brought the clay home and made little objects out of it - pinch pots and little animals. There was no opportunity to fire them in a kiln. They dried in the sun and then dissolved in the rain.

These were my earliest forays into the wild and into art. The clay pits have been filled in. But I am still making art - first as a ceramicist, then as a sculptor and now, at last as a painter.

Here is a picture of the clay mine and one of the young artist. Ok, I painted the selfie recently, based on an old school photo

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