“I don’t always feel beautiful, but I always feel human, and maybe that’s my problem.”
My sculptures exist as storytelling devices, recounting the feeling of coming of age during Y2K amongst contemporary structures. Animals are harnessed as allegorical vehicles for these conversations. The finished work is dressed approachably with seductive surfaces and relies on the naive draw of “cuteness”. The hope is to pique the viewer's interest before asking them to reconcile with their own role in the modern western experience.
Through the lens of a nonbinary individual, these works address how gender is harnessed. Our economy, and the hierarchies that proceed it, thrive on inherently weaponizing the vulnerability of femininity. What is childish and feminine is quickly “othered”. The structure of our economics allows the distribution of money, and therefore power, to be dictated by a particular few. In reaction, my work employs a spectrum of vulnerability across the characters, placing into question what hierarchies exist between viewer and object. What does it feel like to be viewed by an artwork? Or, in contrast, how can a work force the viewer to recognize the power in the gaze I have given them?
The animals in this work become inherent empathy driven devices as they take the identity of characters amongst theatrical landscapes. My personal proximity to animal husbandry has shown that they can exist as metaphors to people in conversations about profit and power in society. Their sympathetic gestures impress their proximity to human attributes.
“Cute” has come to hold a place in this work. At a surface level, it adds to the approachability of the sculptures. However, “what if cute speaks of some of the most powerful needs and sensibilities of our contemporary world?... it is indeed superficial but out of profundity” (May, 2). The framework of our society determines “power” as supreme currency. With our current world climate, I believe it's time to address “cute’s” subversive nuance in challenging past and present systems.
Using the vehicle of animals and leverage of “cuteness,” these sculptures dress the concerns of equity and equality with an intentional feminine politeness. The narratives are driven by the viewer’s observation, consideration, and critical analysis of its components. The viewer is then handed ownership of what they discover and their own reconciliation of their role within these themes.
May, Simon. The Power of Cute. Princeton University Press, 2019.
2021 “GRRL” Boxheart Gallery. Pittsburgh, PA.
2019 “Rose Colored Glasses” Sweetwater Center for the Arts. Sewickley, PA.
2015 “Living West" Medalta Potteries. Alberta, Canada.
2014 “Backroads” Maryland Institute College of Art. Baltimore, MD.
2022 "Cloud 9" NCECA at the Hyatt Regency. Sacramento, CA.
2019 “Boxheart at Art Basel” Boxheart Gallery, Aqua Art Miami. Miami Beach, FL.
2018 “NCECA The Gist Street International Ceramics Bash” James Simon Gallery. Pittsburgh, PA.
2018 “The Rust Belt Invitational” Standard Ceramics. Carnegie, PA.
2022 “Student Juried Exhibition” NCECA 2022. Patsy Cox and Andres Payan Estrada. Sacramento, CA.
2021 “OFF the Wall” Random Access Gallery. Syracuse, NY.
“The Personal Universal” A Celebration of Women's Contribution to Ceramics. A. Merino and A. Kraft. Online.
“Find Your Way Home” Associated Artists of Pittsburgh. Emma Vescio. Pittsburgh, PA.
2020 “2020 Sculpture National” Clay Studio of New Orleans. Judi Tavill. New Orleans, LA.
“Beyond The Brickyard” Archie Bray Foundation. Chris Staley. Helena, MT.
2019 “Wild Things” CDCP Project Space. Carolyn Pierotti. Pittsburgh, PA
“Drawn From Nature” Audubon Society. Cheryl Agulnick Hochberg. Greater Philadelphia, PA.
2018 “A Woman’s Voice Through Art” Erie Art Gallery. Margo Wolfe and Brad Ford. Erie, PA.
2017 “Workhouse Clay International” Workhouse Arts Center. Chris Gustin. Lorton, VA.
“Drawn From Nature” Audubon Society. Doug Wechsler. Greater Philadelphia, PA.
“Nature: Surface, Form, Content” The Clay Studio. Adrian Arleo. Missoula, MT.
2016 “Menagerie” Baltimore Clayworks. Jenny Mendes. Baltimore, MD
2015 “2015 Young Talent” Washington Art Association. Washington, CT.