Easton Medlock Oppenheim Piece

Congratulations Catherine and Thomas. The design of this piece was derived from a diagram reflecting the PhD work of Catherine, with their names intertwined as MEEADSLTOOCNK.
It was commissioned as a wedding gift from her thesis advisor. 

This is the finished piece, stoneware with porcelain slip sgraffito.

The surnames of the couple are intertwined around the shoulder of the piece.

Alan sent me references from which to work. 

I do not need or pretend to understand. 

I continued to add to this small piece to determine how far I should go.
I sent the images to Alan for approval.

The larger piece began with four sets of four diamonds.

The "swooshes" connecting the pairs were added later.

Here are the two finished pieces, sampler and final.


All in the Same Boat - Tong'zhou Gong'ji 同舟共济

All in the Same Boat :: Tong'zhou Gong'ji

Each figure in this project is hand sculpted, made from stoneware or porcelain clay, kiln fired in various methods to produce a range of tones. The first 50 gathered in two symbolic clay boats on the Wellfleet Harbor. They were then dispersed through the City of Cambridge CSA (community supported art) Program. Each recipient of a head receives a composite image of portraits of all fifty; this brings attention to the uniqueness of each as well as creates the feeling of being part of a greater whole. 

Rising tides, immigration, refugees, climate change, the need to realize our common issues – the “Same Boat” metaphor evokes many current and resonant meanings. 

The second iteration was commissioned for the new lobby of SJTU-ICCI, the Institute for Culture and Creative Industry at Shanghai Jiaotong University in Shanghai, China. The scope of this project is 120 heads mounted on a 4 meter long wall hung rich yellow boat, currently in the installation phase. I have only a few snapshots so far. For this project, I guided graduate students, staff and faculty of the college in the making of about 1/3 of the sculptures included in this project, creating a sense of ownership and creative community. 

The title in Chinese, Tong’zhou Gong’ji , is a traditional four character phrase (cheng’yu) that translates to all in the same boat, with a hopeful tone of pulling together to get the other side of the river, less ominous than the English usage.  Interactive videos of birds in the sky and rippling water will be projected above and below the boat. 

One selection of pieces was gifted to the school, another group of “travelers” came to America with me to find new homes in future pieces. American clay and Chinese clay are meeting, finding cultural commonalities. In the next version, I hope to continue the inclusion of community members to make some of the figures for a public art piece for my city. As artist, traveler, diplomat, inspirer,  I hope this will continue to expand.

Working with ESOL students at the Cambridge Learning Center in 2019


Brush, Ink, Paper, Stone - an Intro to Chinese Calligraphy

Free workshops for adults and teens in Wellfleet and Truro
Brush, Ink, Paper, Stone – Intro to Chinese Calligraphy

With the support of the Wellfleet and Truro Local Cultural Councils, Judith Motzkin, an artist based in Cambridge and Wellfleet, is offering four hands on sessions to introduce the origins, history and structure of the Chinese written language and to provide an opportunity to experience calligraphic writing with a brush and ink on rice paper. Motzkin says, “Outer cape residents have little exposure to Chinese culture. Insight into the language is a start to understanding, peace, and friendship between our two peoples.”
The Wellfleet sessions took place at the Wellfleet Library on Saturday, March 2, 2019.
Session 1 for kids: 12:00-1:30. Session 2 for adults was on Sunday March 3:  2:00-3:30.
In Truro, the two workshops will take place at Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill on Wednesday, April 17.  Adults 1:00-2:30 Teens and Adults 3:00-4:30.
Interested attendees can sign up at www.castlehill.org or email me at jmotzkin@gmail.com.

The workshop will include:
·       Cultural context: The Four Classical Arts, of which calligraphy is one and The Four Treasures of Chinese painting and calligraphy—stone, ink, brush, paper.
·       How to hold and use the brush to make expressive strokes. Care of the bamboo brushes.
·       Introduction of the Eight Basic Strokes used to paint bamboo as traditionally taught with the strokes in the character , yong, eternity.
·       Demonstration of the strokes learned as used to paint bamboo with ink on paper.
·       Practice on rice paper with ink to draw the early pictographs, write characters, paint bamboo
·       Examples of the progression from pictographs carved in oracle bones 4000 years ago, through the codification of the written language 2000 years ago.
·       Presentation of a few basic characters and how they are multiplied or combined with other characters to make new words and express concepts. Introduction to the radical/phonetic system.

The presenter, Judith Motzkin, has a degree in Asian Studies from Cornell University. A practicing studio artist in ceramic and mixed media, she continues her lifelong interest in Chinese culture, history and language through study and travel. In 2018, she taught Creative Practice/sculpture in Shanghai.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Wellfleet and Truro Cultural Councils, local agencies  which are supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


Christopher Volpe and Judith Motzkin at Castle Hill Truro Center for the Arts

Chris and I installed our show yesterday and we are pleased with the way our works meet. Opening Reception is Thursday 4-6. Truro Center for the Arts @CastleHill
Chris is showing Westerlies, a series of seascapes in oil paints and tar. 

The pieces in my installation, Gather and Sort, are made of clay, vintage scientific slide boxes and digital images. Pot shards, an inevitable and often discarded product of making pots, are tumbled with sand and water into smooth round forms, imitating geologic processes of weathering and erosion. Assembled over years, they are presented here in various states of chaos and imposed order, making reference to the persistence of pottery in human and archeologic history and the scientific practices of taxonomic organization.

The work speaks to the way we select, gather and make order and use of that which is collected. A stone is placed for the dead, a cairn to mark direction, a “sekimori-ishi” at the entrance to a meditation space of solitude. Just as we share the impulse to pick out stones on the beach, we are impelled to touch these curious objects. Please do.

“A Taxonomy of Sorts” comes from this natural impulse and the action of sorting these objects in the studio, giving them context. The work “...plays with the conventions of taxonomic cataloguing and storage in the natural sciences.”  In the work they “look like they’ve been sorted according to some kind of taxonomic logic, but in fact, they have been sorted by a shifting, undependable logic that is neither chance – decisions are specific and particular – nor rigor.”

“Stone Flow” refers to archaeological time and the slow movement of material from the earth, through the hand of the potter and back to the earth. As more work is made, more pots are lost in process, and more shards are added to create new iterations of this long term project. 


Appearances 2017 GypsyGather

Last summer we lived with and learned the life cycle of the gypsy moths that invaded our woods. The piece I installed today around a lone tree in Dunes Edge Campground for Appearances Provincetown is an abstraction of all the stages--larva, pupae, fluttering males and  females born unable to fly, heavy with eggs. The materials are ceramic, mostly off-casts gathered to recycled from another project and mylar, which if the rainstorm tomorrow  doesn't bring it all down, will survive to catch your eye with fluttering light catching movement. 


Out On a Limb in Pashchima Namarskar (reverse prayer)

From a series of Personal Challenges, this figure is in a posture that I approach with hope that someday I will get there, hands in prayer position between the shoulder blades,  just not yet...