Recent ceramic sculpture by Alice Ballard is at once scientific, sexual and surreal. A plant form inspires each of her series or groupings. But while these "portraits" contain photo-realistic passages, they are more fetishistic than naturalistic. Their sexual aspect, less erotic that spiritual, recalls the lingam and yoni of Hinduism and, like them, symbolizes the generative power of the cosmos and the fertility of nature.
The show at Melberg consisted of repetitions and variations of two forms, the pod or bud — at time representing the beginning of growth's cycle, and at others, the end — and the branch or tree. The series Tree totems is particularly impressive. From four to five high, the works exhibit a range of color in lovely graduations, with subtle shifts of texture. Tree Totem III, 2003, perhaps the most phallic piece, can also be read as a budding branch seen under a giant microscope. Its thick shaft, rough at the base, rises through iron-reds through pale gold to a swollen, smoothly gleaming white top bud.
Kate Dobbs Arial Artist and Critic
February 2006 Issue of American Craft Magazine