The fragmented figure is a compelling image. To present the figure in fragments is to place the viewer in a position of recognizing their own mortality and fragility, eliciting an emotional response that goes beyond an aesthetic appreciation of the body as form. The Venus de Milo, arguably one of the most well recognized works of art in all of history, illustrates this idea perfectly. There are plenty of complete sculptures of the goddess from the same period, but the armless Venus de Milo stands as the epitome of grace and beauty above the rest, and any attempts to restore the sculpture have failed miserably. From this we can deduce that, in the words of art critic Dr. Tessa Adams, “...fragmentation had been transformed as the agency of sufficiency, and thereby the agency of the sublime.”
My own work makes use of the fragmented form, both abstract and figurative, to explore the suffering, fragility, and mortality inherent in life while alluding to a transcendence over those very things. Openings on the pieces can be perceived both as wounds and as passageways, implying various narratives of suffering as well as drawing attention to the interior of the forms, calling into question the significance of what is held inside. What interests me is when the wounds and openings become more than evidence of suffering and pain but portals through which light can enter, bringing a symbolic transcendence to the figures in much the same way that suffering, once endured, can reveal and even produce strength within an individual.
In a personal journal entry, contemporary artist Antony Gormley states that his art “...comes from the same source as the need for religion: wanting to face existence and discover meaning.” At its core, my own work arises from the same desire: to provide a place to acknowledge and examine the suffering we all experience. Whether it is through wounds, passageways, missing limbs, or bandages, the incomplete and damaged form speaks to us with an emotional resonance, reflecting the scars and pain we all sometimes feel. Ultimately my goal is to meet the audience in the midst of their own difficult circumstances and hint at the fact that there is hope despite the suffering, that in shared pain we can find solidarity and strength.
My functional vessels are an exploration of the receptive tactility of clay and the way those qualities can add to the everyday moments of utility we often take for granted. As I create, I have a tendency to get lost in the way clay responds to my hands or to a tool, and I’m fascinated by the way it folds, stretches, and cracks as it is acted upon, sometimes gently and other times violently. I’m especially drawn to moments when the clay surface retains its fluidity and softness even after going through the firing process. These surfaces invite touch and interaction, engaging the viewer in the vessels and enhancing the experience of using them. In so doing, my hope is that those moments of community and nourishment are more savored and celebrated, infusing meaning in the otherwise ordinary experiences of eating and drinking with friends and family.