Life and dust

Kathy Venter, Immersion Series (installation detail), 2004-2006, polychrome ceramic. Courtesy Gardiner Museum.

Kathy Venter: LIFE
May 30 – September 15, 2013
George R. Gardiner Exhibition Gallery

As I entered the exhibition space, equally striking to that of the lifelike sculptures is the overwhelming musk of clay in the air, which makes you feel as if you are right in the artist’s studio. Adding smell to my sensory palette, I began to wander amidst the watchful gaze of a room full of clay people. Kathy Venter’s work explore and construct a bold dialogue of femininity. Participants in her daily life play the leading role as casted moulds for Venter’s clay sculptures. She describes the process as a “piece by piece” construction that is slow, delicate, and serves to break barriers between the  artist and her subject.
The exhibition is divided into a number of different series and I am immediately drawn to the “Immersion Series“. Free from the shackles of the traditional sculpture pedestal, this series depicts a number of clay models suspended from the ceiling. Venter worked from photographs of her subjects underwater. She explains that when a person is submerged, it is like they are cocooned in their own space in an almost “womb-like” state.
Combining inspiration from a variety of cultures into the realm of the modern person, her class-less, race-less and strangely personal works were well worth the clay dust that has settled in my nose.

Rhys Male

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