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Artist of the Week  

Beth Cavener Stichter
American ceramist


Cornered RabbitIt is no wonder that American ceramist Beth Cavener Stichter's expressive, haunting animal sculptures touch a nerve with most who come into contact with them. Cavener Stichter uses animal body language as a metaphor for human psychology, e.g. aggression, fear, apathy, violence and powerlessness, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits. Her latest works were made during a residency at the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana from 2002-04 and another at the Clay Studio in Philadelphia in 2004.

Cavener Stichter received a BA in Sculpture from Haverford College in 1995 and an MFA from The Ohio State University in 2002. She was awarded an American Crafts Council Emerging Artist Grant in 2003. Cavener Stichter's working method is unusual - she builds her stoneware sculptures solid, often with 2,000 or more pounds of clay at a time, then cuts the piece into 30-40 sections, hollows them out, and reassembles them before firing. She often applies porcelain *slip or *terra sigillata in order to achieve a 'wet clay' or 'bare skin' look.

Black Minuet Confessions and Convictions Three Goats

Artist's Statement:

Goat Box"There are primitive animal instincts lurking in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment. The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface they embody the impacts of aggression, territorial desires, isolation, and pack mentality.

Both human and animal interactions show patterns of intricate, subliminal gestures that betray intent and motivation. The things we leave unsaid are far more important than the words we speak out-loud to one another. I have learned to read meaning in the subtler signs; a look, the way one holds one's hands, the tightening of muscles in the shoulders, the incline of the head, the rhythm of a walk, and the slightest unconscious gestures. I rely on animal body language in my work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits.

The InquisitorsI want to pry at those uncomfortable, awkward edges between animal and human. The figures are feral and uneasy, expressing frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and lack of understanding. Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures are engaged with the subjects of fear, apathy, violence and powerlessness. Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke".


Beth's website: http://www.followtheblackrabbit.com
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