“What happens when we acknowledge the long-term consequences of our patterns of consumption?” - the artist
Q: What led you to become a sculptor?
A: I grew up as a child of two architects and seeing space as something malleable came naturally to me. I started making sculptures as soon as I had access to considerable amounts of clay. I am drawn to the medium’s ability to evoke the body’s physical presence and am also really interested in using materials to ask questions about what we, as a society, build and what we discard.
Q: What inspired the collection you submitted?
A: Refuse I-V is a series of 5 hand-carved works from found Linden wood (cut during the redevelopment of a public park in the Cité des Francs-Moisins in Saint-Denis, France). The idea for the sculptures came about after seeing the raw materials – huge tree trunks – lying on the ground outside my art studio. When I asked the workers in the area whether the trees has been sick, they indicated that they were actually healthy; there was no environmental reason to cut them down!
Q: Can you describe the materials you used and your creative process?
A: I decided to sculpt forms that were capable of expressing the visceral disgust I felt upon seeing old trees handled in this manner. I worked on the piece in 2015, the year leading up to the Cop21 United Nations Climate Change conference, which took place in Paris. I first made a series of sketches of actual black plastic waste bags, then sculpted small models out of clay that I cast in plaster. I used these as references for the actual sculptures which I carved using a variety of saws and hand tools. For the sculptures, I selected the largest pieces of wood I had available, which were from the midpoints of the bases of the trees. These were areas where the trunk “branched out” with one trunk splitting into two. From these form, I was able to sculpt a series of pairs of plastic bags, in different configurations.
Q: We were impressed with your Best in Show piece, titled Refuse III, as well as the rest of the collection. Tell us more about this piece/series.
A: Each “couple” of bags in the series comes from one initial piece of wood. The variety of postures can be seen as metaphors for different relationships or different moments in a single relationship, with each bag supporting the other in different ways. The black patina on the sculptures involves used motor oil and each sculpture evokes our use of natural resources on the level of form and subject matter.
Q: What do you hope for viewers to take away from your work?
A: I hope the works encourage viewers to reflect on what we produce and why. A banal trash bag is rarely a subject matter that is lavished with so much detailed attention, in art. At the same time, these bags serve a vital function in modern life, keeping garbage out of site and out of mind. What happens when we acknowledge the long-term consequences of our patterns of consumption? What happens when we honor and respect all forms of nature, and not just human life?
Q: How do you view your art career in five years?
A: I hope to continue to show my work at home and abroad in galleries and institutional settings. In addition to making sculptures and drawings in the studio, I also make large-scale outdoor sculptures and I enjoy the challenge of producing new work for specific public contexts. In the next few years, I hope to connect with new partners, collaborators, and collectors that are interested in supporting my practice.
About the artist:
My work begins and ends in the human body. Our remnants (what we cast off and leave behind in the form of waste, trash, memory etc.) ground and connect us to the earth. My work asks where the things in our lives come from and where they go once we’ve used them. By representing and re-animating remains, I explore the potential of materials to ask questions and to evoke larger environmental relationships.
I treat the products of our culture as physical remains of our bodies and explore how we generate objects as physical extensions of ourselves. With man-made forms, materials, and processes, I extend, inhibit, and modify elements of the human body. I reuse, up-cycle, and revalue regular, standardized, and mass-produced materials into something one-of-a-kind and special to invert the associations we make with different types of detritus. My raw materials are manufactured products with a particular use history and product life cycle. Whether bastardized industrially produced goods in the white cube or surreal interventions in public spaces, my work explores the limits of functionality and worth.
I give a human dimension to physical sites by foregrounding their historical/narrative aspects and input human features into sterile goods by cutting, breaking, gluing, and carving them into forms that evoke the human body. These artworks are at once physical things and conceptual spaces. Through the physical labor and limitations of my own body, I questions which bodies are present and missing in political and cultural discourses. I explore the anatomical potential of the female body as a material metaphor for our actions that ask viewers whether our current situation is fixed or not and how change can emerge.
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