Tuesday, January 26

Kate MacDowell

From personal experience I can verify that porcelain is an extremely tricky type of clay to work with; it's hard to manipulate due to low elasticity, and it's fragile when firing. So when an artist can master it as a medium I am impressed. The fine quality of the finished product emphasizes the refinement of the material, and the results achieved often convey fragility as well as beauty. This is the exact effect desired by artist Kate MacDowell in her ceramic series that melds man kind with nature, showing the inseparability of the two and the frailty of both. Her artist statement explains it best:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though, God knows, even that is bounty enough. We want something else which can hardly be put into words--to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it. – C.S. Lewis.

In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment. These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops. They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones. In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world. In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats. In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.

Photos courtesy of Kate MacDowell


lamia said...

I really really like these!

alexae said...

I want a bird lung lamp for my livingroom... think you can hook me up?

Seriously though; cool.