Beth Cavener Stichter’s haunting ceramic animals
There is something eerie and powerful about Beth Cavener Stichter‘s ceramic animal sculptures. They draw you in and communicate such deep human emotions… it’s hard not to have an emotional connection. Beyond the mastery of clay as her medium, she conveys through extraordinary details the elusive world of the spirit. I want to be in their presence, stare into them… and get lost in the contemplation.
Her artist statement:
“The first thing I like to make clear when talking about my work is that the images I create are visual questions that I am asking of myself, and by extension, all those who come in contact with them. They are questions, rather than statements of opinion, because I am constantly struggling to reevaluate my own assumptions about human behavior and motivation- my self as the primary subject of scrutiny. This ongoing internal investigation allows me to delve into subjects I find deeply uncomfortable and personal, using the sculptures I create as a means to speak of things I find impossible to put into words.
Contrary to the perception many people have initially of my work, I am not out to shock or confront the viewer with the images I create. Instead, I am taking material that is already uncomfortable and trying to recreate it with an element that keeps people engaged despite the disquieting nature of the subject. I take moments of stress and try to point out the humor of the situation; feelings of rejection and loneliness and transform them into universal feels that are shared; moments of suffering and transforming them into situations where we can see how unnecessary and avoidable they are. I really want to make these uncomfortable aspects to our humanity and make them somehow beautiful, poignant, sensitive and above all, something that I can overcome through understanding and empathy. I shyly reveal my vulnerabilities and deepest insecurities in the hopes that I will be understood and forgiven.
What really drives the work is the attempt to lure others into confronting these same issues. This is the main reason that I shifted from using the human form to the animal figure. In my experience, I found that most people empathized more readily with animals than humans. There is an assumed moral and emotional innocence that we associate with the animal image which allows me to delve into territory which we normally find too uncomfortable to dwell on. I want to create images that address some tough questions, while at the same time addressing why we find these questions uncomfortable.” – March 2010