1993. Glazed ceramic, 38 x 26 ⅛ x 23 ⅞" (96.5 x 66.5 x 60.6 cm). Courtesy the artist and Cheim & Read, New York
Benglis first traveled to Santa Fe in 1991, and established a studio there later that year. The artist responded to the rock formations of the region by returning to clay, a material she had focused on while attending Newcomb College for Women at Tulane University in the early 1960s.
The surface of these modestly scaled ceramic pieces retains the physical impressions of the artist's hands. Clay is found around water sources, and Benglis likes to work with natural wet clay. The material is extruded, rolled, squeezed, ripped, pinched, and folded. According to Benglis, “I continue to work with the sculptural aspects of the clay and pushing it around. I tend to work categorically and try to push the material as far as it can go.”
Simultaneously, these pieces also evidence a return to painting for Benglis in the free application of a variety of glazes that range from metallic to matte. In reference to her art practice in general, she has said, “I think of myself as a painter. These ideas have come from painting ideas, yet they're dimensional.”