Thursday, August 11, 2011

What I Learned at Summer Art Camp

I arrived at Red Lodge Clay Center for the Artist Invite Artist Residency this summer with different expectations than what I accomplished. I wanted to complete at least three new pieces. Once I arrived and started working with the other artists, my idea shifted from making completed sculpture to making a mold of just one sculpture. Jason Hess and Brenda Lichman were making molds of teapot spouts and handles and I wanted in on the action.  I cut an almost completed sculpture into pieces to avoid undercuts and spent a day making  molds. The mold that produced the two pieces above is what I came home with.

Since I cut the sculpture into pieces to make the mold, it comes out of the mold in pieces as well that I then have to put together. I'm guessing that the piece is 3/4 closer to being finished with the mold process than if I started the piece from a bag of clay.
My reason for making the mold is so that I can focus more on the narrative of the piece. For example, I don't have to make a new hare if the impetus is to pierce the skin of the hare with a crab claw (above). I already have the hare as a "ready made" which frees me up to take more risks with the narrative since I have less time and hence less emotion invested in the piece.
I like to evolve within an existing aesthetic/formal framework with each new piece. Before molds this was accomplished by answering questions that arise from the making of the previous piece. My fear is that the mold disrupts artistic question and answer and commits me to a particular form. I have put off making molds for years for this very reason. We'll see if the ease of exploring narrative outweigh the inability to explore form.

I made the mold of the hare holding the monkey skull when I returned home with what I learned at RLCC. This is the second piece that I made with a hare holding an object with its hind feet but the first from a mold. The first one holds a human skull (see below). The next one will hold a human brain and a hammerhead shark is in the works. Here the time spent on narrative versus form works well. Instead of making a new hare each time so that I can place an object in its feet, I can now spend more time on narrative and the relationship between two seemingly disparate objects.

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