This body of work seeds out of grief. It is my processing of the year I cared for my Mum as she lived and died with brain cancer. Tumors affected her ability to express herself, my role as carer included acting as translator. I read her needs through non-verbal communication. This connection was beautiful, awful, heartbreaking. As our communication fell away, so did my capacity to describe that trauma.
I returned to the studio after her passing, in search of the language to tell our story. There, the sun cast a stream of light through my window as I worked. Clay came alive, growing plant-like, shape-shifting vessels. Their shadows stretched out, informing their own becoming. Abstract wreaths, unraveling baskets, wriggling spider-hands carried me through grief toward a place of healing. I caught those glyphic shadows in cyanotypes.
The work itself is an act of translation. I transcribe loss to transform it. I search for meaning in the gaps between mediums, in the chasm of lost words. To hold what was lost, I press shadows to the page and bind them in blue.
Works on Paper
Chain Of Leaves
Works on Paper
I am interested in altering everyday human perception by focusing on the minute details of plant morphology. In my field journal, I draw wild neighbourhood plants, observing the tactile characteristics of my local ecology along the Arroyo Seco. I watch red alder roots breathe in the water, listening for the stories of mugwort and manroot. I learn to distinguish corolla from calyx, to recognise subtle changes as a bloom bloats to fruit. To avoid extraction, I forage the negative space between stem and branch, the serrated line at toyon-leaf edge. I find perfectly architectured seed pods in the mulch, ephemeral structures that teach how to hold, and to release. This practice of gathering is what feeds my studio work, an exploration of found forms; intertwining ceramics, drawing and writing into speculative worlds for becoming-with the more-than-human.
Selected field drawings, tracing the shade cast on paper.
Wax pastel studies.
These ceramic sculptures were assembled alongside foraged driftwood, wolf lichen, granite boulders and photographed in early morning light at Tokopah Falls, Sequoia National Park, September 2020.
Photographs of ceramic sculptures interacting with urban green spaces around Los Angeles.
Worm School is an ongoing collaborative project, an online meeting space held between five artists; Ako Castuera, Josh Cloud, Isobel Marcus, Zena Segre and Rosie Brand. The cohort named themselves Earthworm Symbionts and began meeting regularly during the 2020 pandemic to digest and compost excerpts of media proposed by facillitator Rosie Brand. These texts, films, articles were chosen for their relevance to the group’s shared interests in clay, ecology and craft pratices.
Worm School Bibliography
Staying With The Trouble, Donna Haraway
Donna Haraway: Story Telling for Earthly Survival
Disappearance of Rituals, Byun Chul Han
The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction, Ursula K. Le Guin
Poetry is Not a Luxury, Audre Lorde
Gathering Moss, Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Living Stones, Ithell Collquhoun
Patterns for Guernseys, Jerseys an Arans, Gladys Thompson
Speech Sounds, Octavia Butler
Sensing the Field
Corpus Luteum: Attending The Seeding Body
January 2, 2023
The Wrecking of Something
1851 S. Westmoreland Ave.
Corpus Luteum: Attending the Seeding Body was a life drawing/sculpting workshop, an exploration of the aesthetic details and forms expressed by seed pods. By attuning to our plant relatives through careful observation exercises, we expanded upon our perception and experience of our own human bodies.
During this process-oriented workshop, we studied a collection of seed pods foraged locally by artist and co-facilitator Rosie Brand. Through drawing and sculpting in clay, we engaged in multi-sensory observation to explore the tactility of these more-than-human architectures. In the second half of our session, we built sculptural clay pods embedded with wildflower seeds to gift back to the land.
The name corpus luteum (yellow body) refers to the erupted ovarian sac that remains after the release of an egg during ovulation. Fundamentally transformed by its opening, the corpus luteum is a key actor in the continuation of the fertility cycle toward menses or pregnancy, becoming the primary hormone center for the duration of the luteal phase. In Corpus Luteum: Attending the Seeding Body, we looked to our plant relatives here in Tovaangar (the LA basin) meditating further on the form and function of yellow bodies across species. How do seed pods support new life, and what do we learn from these temporary vessels after their seeds are cast?
This workshop was a program of an ongoing performance and installation begun by artist Serena Caffrey entitled The Wrecking of Something, which explores themes of dissolution, transformation, and reclamation through clay, performance, and community dialogue.
Clay Seed Pod Workshop
12.3.22 at Heavy Manners Library, Los Angeles
12.10.22 at Artist’s Studio, San Gabriel Valley
In this workshop, participants looked to a collection of locally foraged seed pods, in order to learn from their more-than-human architectures. These tactile forms were explored through clay, using essential ceramic handbuilding techniques to create both ephemeral and permanent sculptures; clay seed pods. Some clay pods were embedded with native wildflower seeds to be gifted back to the land, and others were filled with clay ‘seeds’, making rattlers to call in the rains.
This workshop is an ongoing offering, please contact for more information on future sessions.
Holding The River, An Underground Watering Pot Workshop
hosted by Ako Castuera and Rosie Brand
Artists’ Studio, San Gabriel Valley.
In this one day, in-person workshop, we used ceramic handbuilding techniques to make underground watering pots (often known as ollas). These vessels are among the most ancient and water efficient technologies for gardening in dry conditions; unglazed and low fired, they allow water to slowly release through clay walls, reaching the roots of plants while preventing surface evaporation and overwatering. With the continuation of long term drought ahead of us, the watering pot is a practical tool for delivering water to where it’s needed in the garden. To bring hands and intention to the creation & use of this vessel is a way to hold and sustain our connection to water as a living being.
We gratefully acknowledge Payahuunadu (aka Owens Valley) as a primary, living source of water that has been unwillingly diverted to faucets and hoses in Los Angeles, and we honor the Nuumu / Owen’s Valley Paiute as her stewards.
‘Holding’ allows a shift from language of money and control (“conservation” “efficiency” “savings”) towards something more personal. We hold the water that keeps us alive. We hold the water of many living bodies, all mixed up: Payahuunadu, The Colorado River, the Feather River, and many, many others. They flow into and out of our homes, passing through pipes, pumps, buckets, our bodies and bathtubs. With very basic acts, we hold and shape the river. How will the river shape us?
This workshop has been practiced with three separate groups in October 2022, It is an ongoing project, we hope to offer future sessions.