Monday, 24 June 2013

looking at the shadow self

Atlanta-based ceramist Kirsten Stingle has been involved
in storytelling throughout most of her life: she started out
working with the Gorilla Theatre, the ”living theatre for
thinking minds”
, founded 20 years ago by husband and
wife, Aubrey Hampton and Susan Hassey, both accom-
plished playwrights and former circus performers, 
before taking a 90 degree turn.

Kirsten wanted to make a difference in the world, so she
went back to school earning a public policy degree from
Columbia University to work as a social welfare policy
researcher and as teaching assistant, yet 9-11 changed
the course of her life out of the blue. ”... I saw the
disconnection we all have with one another and the
destruction that can evolve from that disconnection...”

she declared to 'Combustus', the online arts and literary
magazine where ”artists and free thinkers ignite” created
by Deanna Laine, a professional writer who's a passionate
believer in the healing and even redemptive power of art. 
”I knew I wanted to reenter the arts (...) I started classes
and fell head-over-heels in love with sculpture, 
which feeds that need I have to tell stories.”

Kirsten's hand-built figures are an attempt at cutting through
the isolation by presenting common threads of the human
experience creating powerfully expressive artworks with
a stunning theatrical sense that comes from her background.
”I feel like we're all actors in our own dramas, but the sort of
dramas I'm doing are not Shakespearian dramas, but rather,
more gritty burlesquey, common man dramas,
 absurd and comical” she states.

Her latest collection of ceramic pieces, called 'Shadow
Circus', follows ”the tradition of southern storytelling and
looking at the shadow self. There's a lot that's going on
subconsciously, and I'm trying to push it into my work.
We all have a polite veneer yet we also all contain 
tragedy and brutality and absurdity. 
Most of the time we try to hide that.”

Using gestures as powerful expressive tools, Kirsten's
ceramic figures are actually mixed-media artworks: she
combines her tiny storytelling creatures (handmade without
the use of molds)
with objets trouvés and fancy discarded
elements from the past in an accurate balance of light and
shadow. ”The ultimate goal of my work is to create honest
depictions of the human quest toward a personal vision of
the future, (...) the mixed media not only creates an intriguing
dialogue of materials but also informs the viewer of the
scope of the figure's journey within each narrative”
Stingle's artistic statement reads. Staring at them 
is like being perched along the edge of a 
deep well overlooking our dark side. 

> all artworks & images © by Kirsten Stingle Studio <

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