Shear Zones: Displacements/Permutations Over 40+ Years of Ceramic Practice
Selected Projects/Thematic Investigations


Selected Work/Themes - Late 1960's to mid-2000's

Objects / Late 1960's - Early 1990's

20+ years of narrative, concept and material experimentation
Land Kilns

Site fired kilns and proposals from 1979 to 1999.
Encased Piece

Late 1970's Material/Concept Exploration
Ancient Sunlight / Metabolism

Organic >> Inorganic >> Geochemical

Devonian Shale/Aquifer I

Devonian >> Anthropocene Hydrology
Rapson Group / Site Index

Cement/Glass/Copper/Brick ::
Protogaea Civica I, II, III

Flag System / Site Demarcation


Selected Work/Themes - Mid-2000's to Present

Sea Within the Land / Laramide

Subduction of the Fallaron Plate / Intercontinental Seaway Sedimentation / Laramide Orogeny
Geologic Lens-Systemic Practice

International Ceramic Symposium / Ceramics & Ecology / Icheon, Republic of Korea, 2009
SF Wharf Complex

Mid-Cretaceous Sea >> Anthropcene Formation

Forrest/Roloff Projects

Collaborative projects by Forrest and Roloff
NCECA 2009, 2014 and 2017.

Venice Substructure Complex

Aupian Plate Systems / Quaternary Extrapolations
Expanded Ceramics / UW

Puget Sound Holocene Sediments / Tool Extension
Shear Zone II: Autochthonisms/ Allochthonisms

Investigations 2017+: Western Cordillera / Land/Sea Studies / Sediment/shear Ship/terrane works


Shear Zones: Displacements/Permutations over 40+ Years of Ceramics

A "shear zone," in geologic terms, is a zone of strong deformation that occurs as a brittle to ductile discontinuity, fault or fold in the earth's crust and upper mantle. This mechanism becomes an apt metaphor for the displacement and alteration of ideas and materials of an experimental artistic process. This attitude beginning in the late 1960’s continues to the present in objects, installations, site investigations and environmental projects. This exploratory approach was inspired by a whole range of transformations of the earth's sea/landscape. The displacements and permutations of this approach, are fundamentally considered an expression of ceramics seen through a geologic lens.

As a geology student in Eldridge Moore's Tectonics class at UC Davis in the late 1960's, we investigated the displacement mechanisms of sea-floor spreading in the form of transform faults as articulated by the geologists J. Tuzo Wilson (1965), Sykes (1967) and others.

Majoring in both geology and art as an undergraduate at UC Davis, it was natural to recognize a strong relationship of the materials of both sculpture and ceramics to the processes I was studying in geology: dolomite, feldspar, kaolin, plaster (anhydrous gypsum), etc. I knew these materials as producdts of depositon, metamorphism and extrusion at the scale and time frame of the evolution of land and sea. In geologic time the land and sea are mutable, interdependent and may be construed as forms of each other.  The processes of erosion and deposition are cyclical inversions of each other, a continuum of land and sea interaction through which new land is being formed as we read: depositional systems within oceans, rivers and lakes around us are fed by the denudation or alteration of landscape where clays, silts and sands are suspended, transported, sorted and deposited only to become new landforms for future change.  In this fundamental way, land/seascapes are constructed of previous land/seascapes each carrying the blueprint of their ancestor.  Over time this narrative of material and site relationships was informative at many levels. From the earliest "Diminishing Wave" works of the late 1960's to site-specific works such as Sea Within the Land/Laramide, Denver Art Museum, 2011, geologic (and literary: Borges, Calvino, Hesse, etc) structures, images and metaphors allowed me to work with ceramics with a broad definition of the medium understood through geologic time, scale and process in concert with the traditions of ceramics, conceptual and environmental art. 



Through the selected work and themes presented here over the past 40 years, other analogies of an expanded/conceptual/environmental view of ceramics can be seen: the hydrologic dynamics of aquifers (Devonian Shale/Aquifer I), the tectonic rafting and obduction of micro-continents (Venice Substructure Complex), slow-moving distortions of deep igneous/metamorphic processes (Rapson Group/Site Index), terrestrial and submarine lava flows (Land Kilns), plate tectonics (SF Wharf Complex / Protogaea Civica I, II, III), as well as fluvial and aeolian depositional environments (Expanded Ceramics/UW).  Throughout these investigations, the ship as a metaphor for transport, change and exploration became a central image expressed as objects (Objects - Late 1960's-Early 1990's / Encased Piece) as well as installations (Land Kilns / Sea within the Land/Laramide). Other works, not shown here, Metafossil (Pinus: Ponderosa, Radiata, Balfouriana), 1992, Deep Gradient/Suspect Terrain, 1993, as well as new works under development (Shear Zone II: Autochthonisms/Allocthonisms) are considered within "shear zones" of ceramic practice.

A public lecture, Paradise Reconsidered/Projects and Research, given at the University of California, Santa Barbara, 2007, included a series of terms that had been informing work since the early-1980's. were coalesced and presented as related concepts. The terms, Anthropocene, anthroturbation, depositional environment, paleo-climate, paleogeography and Synthetic Ecology were defined and further placed in relationship to the extent of work and projects. The core concept of what is now termed the 'Anthropocene' is referenced in many of the earliest works by considering geologic time as part of the understanding and genesis of work as in the Land Kilns and is represented in this section through a lecture done in Korea in 2009 (Geologic Lens-Systemic Practice).  Subsequent talks at other institutions helped to articulate the Land/Sea concepts dating back to the 1960's, in part, as functions of: Sea within the Land. Land within the Sea, Sea within the Sea and Land within the Land. Examples of these lectures and writings: Sentient Terrains (Selected Projects), Expanded Landscapes, Anthropocene Projections and others can be found at Selected Lectures/Text.

Sykes, L.R. (1967). Mechanism of earthquakes and nature of faulting on the mid-oceanic ridges, Journal of Geophysical Research, 72, 5–27
Wilson, J.T. (24 July 1965). "A new class of faults and their bearing on continental drift". Nature. 207: 343–347