Allie Regan Dickerson


One day we were. And then one day I was full of grief and at a memorial service. There was no context to this event. There had been a rhythm to our lives. And then there wasn’t. And everything felt unfamiliar. There were days when the silence in the house felt so loud. It drove me outdoors where I felt I could breathe. I would walk the lake. At the start of my walk there was an area of thick plant life just before glimpsing the lake around the bend. There, I would escape from my thoughts when a sound, a flutter, arustle or movement out of the side of my eye caught my attention—a beautiful egret moving among the trees at the lake. Its colors were so similar to its environment that it could barely be seen except for one bright spot of color. And gradually... overtime... I became more present. I would start my walks looking to the left and to the right instead of looking down the path. I became familiar with particular bird calls. The red-winged blackbird would sometimes be sitting on the railing of the first lakebridge. I would observe things I hadn’t seen before. I brought scissors and clipped off branches. After carrying them home I would set them on the counter and examine them. I took photos of the plant life around me. I wasn’t interested in the names of the plants. I was interested in how they were built. I saw that their complexity was derived from the repetition of one form. The leaves on one stem, though the same form, weren’t exactly the same. Sometimes one was curled, frayed or damaged. The sizes varied. I looked at how branches differed. Roots in the ground at my feet had me thinking of words like rootless and rooted. I saw a sense in nature’s metaphorical example. The natural order is where collateral damage and collateral beauty coexist. I don’t know exactly how clay happened. I had done a little bit of clay work during my time in the MFA program when focusing primarily on paint. But I hadn’t touched it since. I think it became interesting again because clay seemed the way tomake plants. This moving into clay has become a turning point. I am able to satisfy quite naturally my attachment to order,my love of intricacy and specificity, utilizing the properties that are inherent in clay. Each piece is constructed by hand individually. Sometimes I will just move the clay in my hand and have a leaf. Importance is placed on the form and the process of making. At times as in life, things break, are created by happenstance or... are what they should be. Intuitively, I adhere pieces one at a time to a board until the work feels complete. I make the shapes in multiples moving from the simple to the more complex. I burn the clay to achieve various shades from white to black. When finished, each clay painting morphs, impacted by light and space, and becomes what it will in response to its environment and its viewer. Conversations of interest: single versus the whole, repetition and discontinuation, brokenness and renewal, beauty and loss of beauty, separate versus connected, fragility and strength.