Through her porcelain sculptures, artist Kate MacDowell explores our romantic notions towards the environment alongside the human propensity for destruction. Her pieces are responses to the damage we inflict upon our habitats including climate change, genetic modification of organisms, and pollution. Human figures and animals act as symbols of the natural world, humorously and sometimes disturbingly transformed into new creatures that share qualities across the boundary of species. Hand crafted and exceptionally detailed, her work is a traditional medium that takes on contemporary significance in an age of ecological degradation.
Kate MacDowell and her ghostly sculptures are beautiful and somewhat haunting examinations of the human relationship with nature. Each piece is molded by hand and then hollowed. Choosing porcelain for its pallor, luminosity, and ability to show texture, it also allows her to represent “fragility of natural forms in a dying ecosystem, while paradoxically, being a material that can last for thousands of years and is historically associated with high status and value.”
Her compositions become frozen in time like preserved specimens, able to weather what their organic counterparts cannot. McDowell sees her work as a commentary on our actions against our environments, incorporating icons from mythology, art history, and figures of speech. Beautiful and thought-provoking, her representations remind us that we are a part of a complex web of life and have responsibilities as stewards.
MacDowell’s work is currently on display at the American Museum of Ceramic Art through January 26th.