Date of Award
Master of Fine Arts (MFA)
On the Edge of Being represents a focused exploration of clay, craft, femininity, fragility, and self-care. The title is hopeful. It represents a certain radical gentleness with myself and with my work. It reminds me that as hard as I try, there is always room to grow and improve. It is also a bit of a joke with myself; I am rarely satisfied.
I began this body of work as a way of rejoicing in the tamped down impulses of my early artistic career. I wanted to infuse my work with magic: color, texture, pattern, flowers, frills, lace, kitsch and tchotches. In my undergraduate education I felt pressured to make serious artwork befitting serious artists. It was not until graduate school that I began to dismantle this modern aesthetic as based in institutions and pedagogies that I do not ascribe to. Craft, kitsch, ornament, and decoration are frequently looked down on in the art world precisely for the reason that they originate from the feminine. From the other. In this body of work I seek to embrace the feminine to create my own visual language with which I can explore ideas of healing, mental health, trauma, self-care, and empathy.
Primarily, I work in clay. Although I began my ceramic career as a functional potter, I determined early on in my graduate education that I wanted to explore the medium further and branch out into hand built sculptural techniques. After exploring mixed media and works on paper in my first year, I arrived full circle to create purely clay sculptures for my thesis body of work. I wanted to push my medium and myself to the outer limits of what is possible in ceramics.
In this book you will find three short essays and a collection of images from my two years of graduate education. The essays explore my artistic point of view, material and processes, and some of my early and underlying motivations for creating On the Edge of Being
Gross, Zoe, "On the edge of being" (2018). Masters Theses. 291.
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