[The Inquisitors. Via]
Beth Cavener Stichter's beautiful work reminds me of both Patricia Piccinini and Kate MacDowell. Although each artist has her own unique perspective and approach, they share a thematic concern with the intermixing of human and nonhuman bodies, and explore the blurry boundaries of ontology more generally.
Stichter explains that:
"The sculptures I create focus on human psychology – stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal and human forms."
[Empire of Dust. Via]
The pieces are very emotional. The one below breaks my heart. The posture is so expressive that you immediately empathise with the creature and its pain. Nobody should feel like they are no one. The fact that this animal is an 'i' - as opposed to an 'it' or 'thing' - is clear.
[i am no one. Via]
Stichter's artistic statement articulates the logic behind her creations brilliantly:
Both human and animal interactions show patterns of intricate, subliminal gestures that betray intent and motivation. The things we leave unsaid are far more important than the words we speak out-loud to one another. I have learned to read meaning in the subtler signs; a look, the way one holds one's hands, the tightening of muscles in the shoulders, the incline of the head, the rhythm of a walk, and the slightest unconscious gestures. I rely on animal body language in my work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits.
I want to pry at those uncomfortable, awkward edges between animal and human. The figures are feral and uneasy, expressing frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and lack of understanding. Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures are engaged with the subjects of fear, apathy, violence and powerlessness.
Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke.
[Object Lesson: Apathy. Via]
[A Rush of Blood to the Head. Via]
Check out Stichter's website for many more images and details of her work, as well as exhibitions and workshops.