Updated: May 15
Joy Brown's bronze sculptures are an intricate part of her work. When I started working on a documentary film about her, I approached an artist who had evolved from and around the anagama tradition that inspired Joy to build her kiln in Connecticut, following in the footsteps of her master Shigue Morioka. I was moved by the figures coming from the kiln at the end of a ten-day ritual by which the Georgia clay Joy chooses to work with becomes stand-alone figures or parts of a recent mural conceived for a distant wall in the southernmost tropical islands of Japan. I recently visited The Soko Museum in Amami Oshima, where I discovered yet another facet of Joy Brown. On the grounds, I saw several monumental bronze figures. Shin Watari, funder of The Soko, is an art lover, collector, and admirer of Joy's work. A new chapter to Joy Brown's World was being written before me. These monumental works result from Joy's collaboration with a foundry in China, where Joy has been collaborating with local artisans for almost twenty years. Unexpectedly, my film was no longer about a muralist trapped in the makings of a ceramist that had once been an aspiring potter from a small village in Connecticut. Joy's world was way more complex, with profound family roots in China and Japan that stretched for three generations and a vision that was now manifesting as monumental bronze work at Shin Watari's museum in Amami Oshima, on public display on Broadway, and most recently with Dave Mathews's private collection in Virginia.
Monumental Statues of Joy Brown Around the World
I recently traveled to Wakayama to visit Shige Morioka, the artist who inspired Joy, and almost an entire generation of anagama artists in America. I've followed Joy's creative process from the draft on paper to the actual firing of the kiln, and I'm now tempted to see firsthand the foundry close to Shangai, where Joy's bronze cast. Being there will help me understand how her clay models become the giants that grace private and public spaces worldwide. This film is now personal, and I want to learn and understand how Joy balances her artistic vision with the practical challenges of working across cultures and continents. I want to capture the essence of Joy Brown's World, a world that is constantly evolving and expanding and full of beauty and wonder.