33 - featured artist: kate macdowell

03 August 2011

American artist Kate MacDowell combines human, animal, and plant forms with art historical and mythological references to explore our increasingly fraught relationship with the natural world. at once strangely beautiful and deeply disturbing, her meticulously hand-sculpted works in porcelain evoke the uneasy tension between our romantic ideal of being united with nature, and the impossibility of ever fully doing so, in part because of our devastating impact on the environment. decaying animal carcasses reveal inner structures comprised of anthropomorphic anatomical forms; an outstretched arm reminiscent of Michelangelo's iconic image of the hand of God giving live to Adam seemingly longs for a union with nature; luminous human organs radiate with an uncanny juxtaposition of human and plant or animal life; animals equipped with safety gear attempt to protect themselves from man-made environmental threats, while for others it is already too late. 

intricately preserved in porcelain, these part human/part natural specimens attest to our intimately bound relationships with one another. at the same time, the inherent fragility of the porcelain gestures to the impermanence and vulnerability not only of endangered animals and ecosystems, but also of our own existence. with an acute sensitivity and awareness, the artist brings this disquieting relationship to life.

i love everything about Kate's work: her vision, craftsmanship, aesthetic, thoughtfulness, astuteness, and of course, her choice and use of material. i couldn't think of a better artist to start off a new featured artist series.

all images copyright Kate MacDowell.


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