24 Feb Why?
It began simply enough, a college requirement was to take an art class. Walking into the clay studio I immediately knew it was where I belonged. Realizing the muck, the mud, could be modeled into anything, into any shape, I was hooked. My hands have experienced many different art mediums along my artistic path, yet I keep coming back to mud, an endearing term for clay. PinchPals are “pinched” from clay.
PinchPals are figurative human-like characters. Did you know your DNA is 99.9% percent identical to the person standing next to you? The PinchPals honor that nearly identical physical form. Humans share countless traits: our vulnerability at birth, our desire to help others, our hope for meaningful employment and purpose. The PinchPals are here to help you acknowledge the joy of friendship, heartbreaking sorrows and challenges we all experience along life’s journey. They are a way for you to connect with others and “let someone know you’ve got their back”.
Why I kept making the same characters over and over began as a personal protest. In 1978 the tragedy of Jonestown shocked me. Over 900 people committed mass suicide, they followed their charismatic leader into the jungle and then obeyed his order to drink the Kool-Aid. The event deeply disturbed me. That so many innocent human beings perished at the hands of another person was unfathomable. I started making these little characters over and over, a salute to those 900 lives. These poor people lost themselves, they became “Clones”. I was in my early 20s, a formative time for anyone. Pre-internet this news came to me on the radio and then I read about it in the newspaper. Eventually seeing television footage, I was sickened.
As a result of creating quite a collection of “pinched” clay figures I began seeing them as characters for an animated film. Growing up with stop motion animation: Gumby, Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer (remember, Berle Ives was the snowman), David & Goliath, it felt like the perfect art medium. I spent my last year at college producing a stop motion animated movie “Media Messiah”, using clay characters I re-capped the story of Jonestown.
In a Nutshell
Fast forward, I played with clay on and off for many years, and kept making more of these characters….I mean hundreds of them, because in my mind they represented community, and they had a job to do: to look out for each other. No one has to “drink the Kool-Aid”.
As we age our physical being resembles how we looked as children…a bit of a belly, simple figures, we all look like “Clones”, copies of one another. The 99% identical DNA is responsible. The name PinchPals came about thanks to my dear friend Elisa Fleener. Elisa is an artist, children’s book author, television writer and wildly creative type. She knew these characters were a part of my world and I asked her to help me figure out what to do with them. After watching me make a few “Clones”, a light went on in her head, and she coined the name PinchPals, because they are pinched from clay, and are here for you in a pinch.
The photo above is from 1978, the “Clones” enjoying a beach sunset in my college town of Sarasota, Florida. And that’s why and where the PinchPals began. PinchPals are all of us! Let someone know you’ve got their back.