On the same evening that we visited Bethany Marchman’s collection of anthropomorphic animal oil paintings, we saw a remarkable exhibit from a sculptor exploring similar themes.
Come Undone, the new body of work by Beth Cavener Stichter, features large-scale works made from clay. Cavener Stichter cajoles the viewer into looking at the darker side of the human condition by cloaking it in animal skin. Her subjects elicit empathy, expressing complex emotions and relationships while permitting us to finally examine humanity closely enough to fully consider it — and to connect on a rare personal level.
A life-sized sculpture of a lamb makes for an unexpected chandelier, lit from within and suspended from the ceiling.
A sensuous hare dangles a tattooed leg suggestively over the edge of its sculpture stand, all the while sustaining the piercing eye contact Cavener Stichter’s works are known to possess. Each work heightens our visual interest while dramatizing states of grace, fear, desperation and beauty.
The White Hind (The Bride) reminded us very much of This Piece.
In Bocca al Lupo (We call it Wolf with Pink Vomit)
Each piece is testimony to Cavener Stichter’s truly innovative studio practice. While the properties of her chosen medium enable her an eloquence of form and surface unavailable through other media, she pushes the process further through a construction both delicate and time consuming. She begins with a solid block of terra cotta, taking care to create her signature “painterly” sweeping strokes in the clay. She then cuts the work into small, manageable sections re-work and re-articulate the musculature, skin, and fur. The next step is to painstakingly hollow out each section until it is very thin and thus fires to an extreme strength. After the kiln, she re-assembles the pieces and paints the finished work.
While the Come Undone exhibit takes up the main floor gallery, downstairs you’ll find a diverse collection of pieces by other Claire Oliver represented artists, which is just another reason a visit to this gallery is always enjoyable.
Beth Cavener Stichter’s Come Undone will be on Exhibit until October 20th, 2012 at The Claire Oliver Gallery, Located at 513 West 26th Street (Street Level) New York City.