Special Gifts

Marie Tharpe tried to see the ocean floor as if the water had been drained out. I met her when she was given a Woman Pioneer in Science award by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1998, for her work mapping the world’s ocean floors.

Her gift:

Later she wrote me:

"Your tireless efforts to secure bottom sediments with some tiny fossil animals from the lakes, bays, and seas of our planet is serious scientific stuff. Your next phase of arranging these artistically into a lasting pattern of glazed stoneware is a superb combination of science and art. I do wish you greatest success . . . I hope you can branch out to other objects of similar designs. Then you would market them world wide."

“New World’s Revealed” is the section Martin Kemp named for us in “Visualizations, The Nature Book of Art and Science.” The first essay in that chapter is on Tharpe's work, map making with Bruce Heezen using echo-sounding; it is called “Heezen’s Highlands.” The essay following it is called “Dendrites From the Deep,” about my work.

Since then, I have enjoyed making things for many occasions including graduations, thank yous, marriages, retirements, burials, and objects commemorating various occasions.  

Sometimes people bring materials with special meaning for them like:

• a land sample dug from where a footing was poured for a house
• sand from where a couple was married
• earth from a kibbutz where cherished children lived too far away
• I have a tablespoon from next to the Titanic wreck - it was scraped    
  off some robotic pinchers, can you use it on two bowls?
• I'm going to Qatar, to visit the Emir, I would like to bring a gift
• I want something to thank the man whose yacht I will sail around
  Cape Horn on, and I know he has everything
• I’m celebrating 25 years of sobriety – please make a teapot with the date –   it’s a gift from my children
• we'd like to thank a generous donor...

And my desire to thank WHOI for all the materials resulted in this gift to them:

The WHOI Orb

In response to a letter I wrote him, Director Bob Gagosian asked me to create something that would tell the stories about the global reach of their work. They have installed it in the building that houses their core archive.

The gifts go on. I made the Orb, and WHOI’s Tom Kleindeinst made these photos.

The base text says:

They were at 37° 23.029’ North, 68° 50.0’ West, pulling up a box core from a water
depth of 4,500 meters, on Tuesday the 16 th of July, 1996. On deck, sediment from between the cores was in buckets, about to be dumped overboard, when “able-bodied seaman” Christopher Griner thought , I hate to see all that good mud go to waste . . .

and so he brought it to the potter, whose studio was tucked behind the Coast Guard base in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, U.S.A.

The kiln was on. Into a spy hole it went, and out a day later as a lava-like glob. And then . . . and then . . . and then . . . more mud, more conversations, more stories.

Experiments ○ Results ○ Imaginings ○ Responders ○ More coring at sea ○ Scrapings from split cores

THANK YOU SHIPS! Oceanus, Knorr, Atlantis II, THANK YOU Chain, Alvin, JOIDES Resolution, Maurice Ewing, R/V Cape Hatteras, R/V Point Sur, Baruna Jaya, Thomas Thompson, Nathaniel B. Palmer, Atlantis and others too .

Thank you for mud communities. Thank you for people communities, and journeys to places . . . Costa Rican Accretionary Prism, Arabian Sea, Dead Sea, Red Sea, Bermuda Rise, West Carmen Basin, , Norfolk Slope (east of Virginia Capes), Bering Sea, Southern Ocean, Emerald Basin, Hydrate Ridge, Brazil Margin, Grand Bahama Banks, Black Sea, Mediterranean , Sahara sands in the deep seas . . . Sierra Leone Rise, Galleons Passage, Indian Ocean, Charleston Bump, Gulf of Mexico, Blake Outer Ridge, Gulf of Maine, Bali Basin, Sulawesi Sea, Shatsky Rise, mouth of the Amazon,

and THANK YOU partnerships . . . icebreakers, . . . U.S.C.G.C. Healy and depth probers Argo and Jason . . . hydrothermal P-vent from East Pacific Rise, and nannofossil foraminiferal ooze . . . magma dynamics channelling, branching, fusing into black ice . . . growing crystals . . . thank you Gaia.


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