Artist Statement – Much of my work references devotional objects — sacred objects that provoke contemplation and reflection. In my case, they are built from functional materials in a non-functional context. Traditional domestic materials — porcelain, fabric, thread — are humble and accessible, and seductive to the touch. Often my mark-making mimics lines and shapes found in prehistoric caves (marks that are also likely sacred, but not religious).
I often use scraps of fabric and the leftover edges of clay slabs in my artmaking. I imagine the use and dis-use of these same materials is profoundly articulated at the dump. I aim to explore the relationships between domesticity, personal histories, and memory by discovering fragments with common visual characteristics, and manipulating them until they are transformed.
I have also been thinking a lot about the concept of gestalt. This term is often mis-translated as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts — the accurate translation is the whole is other than the sum of its’ parts.
Gestalt can seem to equal aha moments — but this is misleading. The idea that the meaning that emerges from smaller or disparate parts is not by nature higher up on a hierarchy, but sideways or other, frustrates our very human desire for a reliable system of comprehending experience. But it also feels more forgiving and less conclusive.
Freud defined therapy as transforming hysterical misery into common unhappiness . In my artmaking, tiny repetitive acts, mainly the stitch in fabric, and the dot on porcelain, act among other things as a kind of therapy. In terms of artistic process, it’s through these acts of repetition that I experience the same kind of out-of-body meditative state that I’m hoping to bring to the viewer. That state is, for me, a tonic to contemporary life.
Bio – I am a mostly self-taught artist from a long line of craftswomen. I’m a third generation Oregonian, and my aesthetic is grounded in the colors and textures of the Pacific Northwest. My eye for color, pattern, and detail was cultivated early on in my mother’s quilt store, as was my appreciation for handwork and being a part of a creative community. I studied Literature & Architecture as a student in Portland State University’s Honors College, and spent a term as an intern doing curatorial research & writing for the Smithsonian American Art Museum, with a particular focus on sculpture. This experience greatly informed my perspective as a sculptor. In addition to my studio practice, I teach workshops in the Pacific Northwest, and I’m a longtime public educator in the arts.
Art Exhibition: Friday, August 3
Carolyn Hazel Drake's website