Dorien Garry

In the turbulent and uncertain times that these days feel like, it feels more important than ever to take stock of and acknowledge the good things we have going on, and to have those reminders plentiful and close. Peace Sign Sculptures made by local ceramicist, Dorien Garry, are some of our favorite reminders. Post election, a need for stability was felt more than ever by Dorien. Looking to contribute, she put her energy  to work, and started creating tangible pieces of peace to put out into the world.  We drove up the hilly streets of Mt. Washington to talk about her process and the balance of being a mother and an artist, meet Dorien!


Tell us a bit about who you are and what you do
DG: My name is Dorien Garry and I'm a ceramicist living in Los Angeles. I was a tour manager for over a decade and worked mostly in the music industry in some capacity or another since I was a teenager. I started working as a ceramicist a few years ago after my son was born and I needed both a new hobby and an income, so somehow I managed to mush the two needs into one! 

How did the Peace Sign Sculpture come about?

DG: It was right after the election. I was incredibly depressed and upset about what was happening. I was in the studio and deep into the "You Must Remember This" podcast on the Manson murders. I was listening to the episode dedicated to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, who I love so much, and it was so dark and upsetting hearing in such great detail all the ways his what should have been silly friendship was another long hair hanger-oner, Manson, completely messed him up in the head and blew his whole scene apart. Everyone says it was the end of his sanity from that point on, and it really ruined the whole era and the whole energy went totally dark.  So the combination of feeling like I was losing my sanity, and that Manson and Trump were both monsters and he was about to blow the countries humanity apart made me just start carving out the peace hand. I've had a little vintage wood carved one for years and I threw it in my bag that morning because I had an urge to sculpt from a model, like I used to do when I took painting classes. What wound up happening was I just wanted to put some peace back in the world quickly.

What songs do you have on repeat lately?

Don't Let it Get You Down- Kevin Ayers
Prove Your Love- Fleetwood Mac
Govinda Jai Jai- Alice Coltrane
Court and Spark- Joni Mitchell- the whole record  from start to finish! All the songs!
Nobody Told Me- John Lennon (This is also my 3 year olds current favorite tune, so it gets played an extra a lot)

What's your favorite part of your ceramic process?

DG: I think it's the frustration. I hate the frustration so much when I'm in the midst of it, but once I come out the other side and I've finished a piece or a project or a part of something I was struggling with I'm really grateful for it. I'm afraid of change, and I don't like confrontation- so it's a part of my life that subtly challenges that in me and it feels really good to push myself through it (when it's over!)
I also love that the peace hands represent something positive in these hard times, so it feels good to be putting something like that out there for people to feel good about. It's an important little symbol, especially now.

How do you balance between work and everyday life?

DG: Not very well! I have a toddler so I only really work a few days a week when he's in school and then on the weekends. It's a total puzzle to figure out constantly with my partner, but we swing it. I always wish I had more time to work, and more time to learn more too, but I know that soon my kid will be in school a lot more and I'll be able to up my production more and then eventually he'll just want to be with his buddies all the time and I'll be talking to the clay and asking what it wants for dinner. Plus I'm a Gemini and I don't think we are able to balance much well, it's our curse!

Any advice for someone who is interested in dabbling with ceramics?

DG: Take classes! And stick with them! It wasn't until I found a teacher that clicked for me that I really got the bug. Her name is Titia Estes and she's an incredible ceramicist. She's been such an wonderful mentor and is an amazing teacher,  so once I started to really learn the basics and get the hang of it, I eventually developed the confidence to start to try things on my own. When I started I wasn't learning much and I felt like I was bad at it, and so I was discouraged to keep going. Honestly finding the right teacher and a community to work within made that all change for me.

Whats your ideal Saturday look like?
DG: It's a work day for me! Usually we hang out in the morning and have some breakfast and cartoons and then I pack up to spend the bulk of the day in the studio. But Saturday evenings are usually a out to dinner night for us, trying to figure out where to go that won't be too crowded and some what enjoyable or easy with a wild small fry in tow!

Who would you love to send one of your sculptures to?

DG: So many! Yoko Ono, Rebecca Solnit, Joni Mitchell, are three that come to mind quickly. They have been front and center with their art for me the last few years that I've been focusing on doing this, so it feels sorta natural. I listen to a lot of audiobooks in the studio and a lot of biographies so sometimes it feels like people are along with me while I'm making stuff in this really big way. Howard Zinn too, I know he's not alive, but I wish I could give him a peace sign for his desk that he wrote all those immensely important books at. His writing and teaching has shaped my view of the world so greatly since I was young and I feel like he's eternally entwined with the metaphorical peace sign in my heart always.


Thanks Dorien!

Photos by Marielle Chua


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