Layl McDill

"Once upon a time each of us was a little kid. Everything was nonsense. We tried to figure it out. We wondered about everything. We wondered what was in the cupboard, the drawers, and boxes. We wondered how the calculator worked, or the dishwasher or a watch. We wondered what our stuffed animals did at night. We wondered what all the symbols at on the top row of the keyboard were for. We wondered what it would be like to live in a tree, underwater or in outer space.
       For me making my art helps me keep this magical doorway to wonderment open. I am drawn to imagery that sparks that feeling of unknown and mystery like cupboards, drawers or placing everyday objects (like a keyhole, a lollipop, a chair etc.) in an incongruent setting (a flower, a fountain, a fish etc.). I like to create metaphors such as "Just think How Books are Like Bird Houses"- are they? I leave you thinking they are but you get to come up with your own reasons why.
       My technique and materials are also very mysterious. I use primarily polymer clay with the ancient technique of millefiore. Tiny images that cover every surface of my sculptures inevitably make the viewer wonder “How did she do that?” And even though I have been doing it for twenty years it still seems amazing that I can create a tiny picture can be inside a chunk of clay. I also like to incorporate found objects and my own colored pencil sketches. Often I will start with a mysterious object found at a thrift store or a sketch and let these be a starting point on an artist journey where I have little idea of the outcome.

Sarah Whitting Layl.jpg
       As I am creating I am asking all kinds of questions that entertain my imagination and when the piece is complete the viewer can start asking questions: "What happens next?" "What do all those magic potions do?" "Why is there a puzzle piece in the cupboard?" "What kind of vegetables do they sell at an underwater farmer's market?".
       But once surrounded with my seemingly nonsensical world you start to recognize reality. When I created "She Made it Look Easy to Control the Rhino Puppet Show" I didn't figure out that the Rhino was my husband until the piece was nearly finished. There is something universally comforting in seeing your struggles made light of or mirrored in art. Or sometimes it is the celebration of something wonderful like in “She Knew all The Best Ways to Deliver Word Kites”- I look at this piece and it makes me think of all the wonderful reading teachers I have known.
       Some people come to my work thinking it is great for children but I really make my work for adults. I make it for everyone that loves to revisit that feeling of wonderment, magic and mystery that we all had as kids".