Kate MacDowell

American artist Kate MacDowell uses porcelain clay to craft her nature-inspired works. After  teaching in urban high schools, volunteering at a meditation retreat in rural India, and creating websites in high-tech corporate environments,  in 2004 she returned to the US and she began to study ceramics at the Art Center in Carrboro, North Carolina, and then later expanded her education after a move to Portland, Oregon.  Though she is now a full time sculptor, the experiences she found during these travels have culminated and continue to bring both an informed statement, and a divine inspiration, to her phenomenal sculpture works; each of which comment on humanity’s struggle with nature, as well as how science has affected it.  
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.
Kate’s attempts to show the link between humanity and nature can be seen easily in these pieces, in which a human skeletal system is revealed to be inside each animal. Both intricate and a bit disturbing, Kate’s pieces have a refreshing depth.
MacDowell’s work explores how the “romantic ideal of union with the natural world conflicts with our contemporary impact on the environment.” In Sparrow, the chimera of a human skeleton inside a broken bird-body has an apparently clear message: what we do to our world, we do to ourselves. We are biologically and ecologically interrelated. But in other pieces, like the installation Quiet as a Mouse, the message is not so clear.
 
''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.''




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