Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
Clay is a binary material. It is soft and malleable and yet becomes as hard as rock when subjected to immense heat. Its responsiveness to manipulation makes it well suited to recording touch in landscapes of surface. Its versatility makes it the ideal material for expressing other types of antipodal concepts: dark and light, banal and profound, temporary and durable. The sculptural objects in this body of work represent many of these contrasts through an investigation of various historical concepts within a broad definition of landscape art. The hollow clay “rocks” reference caves and grottos through apertures in the surface allowing access inside their cavernous interiors. The fantastical forms suggestive of both natural rocks and imaginary mountain realms are reminiscent of Chinese scholars’ rocks and the stones in Japanese Zen gardens. The dramatic surfaces and contrasts align the works with evocations of the sublime in nature. Finally, the works ask the viewer to consider her orientation toward the natural world through one of the most fundamental contrasts: geometric interventions into natural topography. With the assistance of historical precedents in landscape art, I am asking questions about the relationship of the material of clay to the landscape through the creation of large-scale forms finished with layers of low-fire glazes. Ultimately, the work develops a language of its own, residing somewhere within aesthetics of both natural and artificial realms.
McDermott, Martin, "Between material and landscape" (2016). Masters Theses. 38.