This is my first time living abroad. I came here with my own assumptions, and have experienced others as well. Being from an English speaking country, I was surprised by how foreign many aspects of England were to me, and how much of an alien I seemed to be to other people.
Part of this new experience was my surprise in finding tropical foliage here in England. The plants I see while walking around London often look unwell and out of place, reflecting my own uncomfortable experience as an immigrant. These tropical specimens are relics from a time in history which isn't commonly or comfortably talked about - to me this adds to their absurdity as decorative objects.
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This past November, the attacks in Paris brought back for me memories of 9/11, I found myself afraid to travel around London, This was extremely frustrating and I concluded it was from listening to too much radio.
During this time I began sculpting bugs, I hate bugs. To me, they are indicative of fear mongering and the skewed narratives that drive them. Evoking fear at first, but not as threatening when looked at a little closer.
After receiving my BFA from The University of the Arts and living In Philadelphia I recently returned to my home near the ocean in Long Island, NY. Using my skills as a potter trained in traditional English and Japanese techniques I began to create a series of formal functional pieces that I applied small sea creatures to, images inspired by memories from my childhood and my new familiar surroundings. Covering formal ware in crustaceans – which in real life have an unforgiving ferocity – has interested me because it is a reminder that no matter how much we try to control the creation of what we think is beautiful, uncontrollable forces like nature usually end up taking over. But what truly excites me (and keeps me needing to make more) is marrying my love of functional porcelain pottery and a whimsical (or ferocious?) underwater world that mars the formality of each piece. The journey I take deciding how to incorporate and compose these underwater elements with the service ware it is enveloping is what makes each piece completely unique. In the end one type of beauty is made more beautiful by co-existing with its foil resulting in two completely different aesthetics existing harmoniously as one piece.
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In my family, humor is an important part of life, especially funerals. We uphold the typical Brooklyn-Irish-Catholic stereotype of a whiskey-drenched affair with a HUGE family. As the old joke goes: the only difference between an Irish funeral and an Irish wedding is one less person. These momentous events are comprised of deep despair and poignant reflection but are most notable for the cacophonous laughter that ensues. As much hugging and holding of each other that happens amongst family members who seek comfort there are just as many stories of the deceased being told, mostly the funny embarrassing stories of course. This tradition helps to create a bridge between the comfort of humor and an overwhelming feeling of loss.
This idea is what inspired this series. While exploring the forms of Grecian Amphora, I was reminded of funerary urns. Having recently dealt with loss, this subject weighed heavy on my mind. To get through the inevitable depression I was dealing with the months following my tragic summer I relied on the comfort of the people around me. While joking around with friends, I began to relate the subjects we would discuss (relevant to our generation and the pop culture of the time) to the funeral urn forms I was interested in. The Urns became a vehicle to “put to rest” the concept they depicted. Since the concepts I chose were inspired by casual conversation and discussions with friends, the aesthetics I used were relevant to the pop culture of our time. Using imagery inspired by urban Hip Hop lifestyle, the Biggie Tupac Urn is an attempt to put to rest the ongoing East Coast/West Coast rivalry of the 1990’s, The Scrunchie Urn is meant to put to the rest trends and aesthetics of a decade past that had gone out of style, the Camo Urn -inspired by George W. Bush’s frustrating reign- is simply a message to put an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Deer Hunter urn could either be seen as the ideal resting place for an avid outdoorsman or could be seen as an idea to put an end to sport hunting.
The dichotomy of using the whimsy of pop culture aesthetic and the somewhat serious subject matter of the vehicle used to convey it is an attempt to inspire thought and laughter is what gives this series a special identity for me. It’s a form of non-verbal communication derived directly from my family’s generations upon generations of coping skills but is also identifiable and easily shared with the rest of the world.