Kate MacDowell’s Ghostly Porcelain Sculptures

Porcelain skulls Porcelain vulture Kate MacDowell - Porcelain Kate MacDowell - Porcelain

Artist Kate MacDowell uses porcelain clay to craft her nature-inspired works. MacDowell’s works are realistically sculpted and meticulous. Hollowing out a solid form and building each piece leaf by leaf and feather by feather, she intimately involves herself with the process of building.  The works themselves are beautiful, ghostly white and evoke a very serene feeling. Upon a closer examination, however, things aren’t quite right. A large bird has human hands instead of its normal claws, and an apple has a tiny skull inside of it. Mice have ears on their backs. MacDwell explains in a statement, writing:

In my work this romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment.  These pieces are in part responses to environmental stressors including climate change, toxic pollution, and gm crops.  They also borrow from myth, art history, figures of speech and other cultural touchstones.  In some pieces aspects of the human figure stand-in for ourselves and act out sometimes harrowing, sometimes humorous transformations which illustrate our current relationship with the natural world.  In others, animals take on anthropomorphic qualities when they are given safety equipment to attempt to protect them from man-made environmental threats.  In each case the union between man and nature is shown to be one of friction and discomfort with the disturbing implication that we too are vulnerable to being victimized by our destructive practices.

The careful construction and fragility of material MacDowell has chosen coincides conceptually with her work.  Read More >


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Kate MacDowell

Sculptures by Kate MacDowell. Her work explores the impact of humans on nature, using porcelain clay and exquisite technical skill.

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Kate MacDowell

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According to Kate MacDowell, her varied travels from Italy to rural India have greatly influenced her unique artistic vocabulary. She began studying ceramics full-time in 2004. Since then, she has created pieces that ascertain their prestige through the perfect juxtaposition of the beautiful and the alarming. MacDowell’s work is so precise that it feels as if it exists more comfortably in reality than in imagination. If you’re in the UK, you can see her work in the upcoming group show, Shadowside, at bo.lee Gallery in Bath.

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