NEW YORK CITY — Last week we profiled the salacious porcelain sculptures of Chris Antemann. We’re back this week with porcelain works that fall more on the Lynchian side of sexuality. In her P.P.O.W. exhibition Spoil (New York City, January 9 – February 8, 2014) Jessica Stoller used the language of porcelain figurines to make sensuality touch the grotesque with works that contemplate conventional femininity. Hyperallergic described these S&M-inspired forms as a “macabre tea party.” What follows is a write up from P.P.O.W.
In Spoil, Stoller uses clay and the grotesque as a vehicle to explore the constructed, often idealized world of femininity, gathering imagery across cultural lines and histories, often fixating on the subjugation of the female body. Porcelain is her primary media, a historically weighted material that is inevitably linked to desire, mystery and consumption. The sculptures in Spoil spill out of decorative materiality into the Rococo maximalist mentality of pageantry, pomp and artifice that are often overlooked as frivolous ploys. Through the synthesis of the symbolic female, culturally, historically and bodily, Stoller allows feminist language to expand within her work leaving room for subversion, defiance and play.
Stoller uses a myriad of techniques to create her highly detailed works. First, hand-building the porcelain forms and incorporating porcelain slip, or liquid clay to coat fabric which burns away through controlled firing, leaving draping lace and flesh-like fabric ribbons. Stoller’s knowledge of the medium allows her to manipulate the clay, creating a wide-range of effects: piped cakes, dripping syrup and rows of spikes and interlocking chains undergo multiple firings to develop each richly colored surface. The resulting works embody a powerful sense of oppositions that blur the lines between real and imitated, normal and abnormal, perceived beauty and the bodily abject.
The installation is comprised of sculptures ranging from tabletop scaled busts to elaborate multi-piece works. In the center of the gallery Stoller presents a large still life that is reminiscent of French grand dining practices of the 18th century, when porcelain replaced sugar sculptures, becoming essential in creating lavish table decorations of allegorical and mythological themes. Stoller’s tableau seduces the viewer into its bountiful tiers of carnal illusions where nipples become macaroons. The intricate assemblage pays homage to religious and historic iconographies (16th century Vanitas paintings, Marie Antoinette’s breast cup) and contemporary semiotics of abject hands stuffed with lace and adorned with long curling embellished nails, oversized anime eye pendants and silver plated hybrid antlered skulls. Stoller’s work is grounded in dual appearances; mobilizing our vision of the grotesque in opposition of contemporary societal controls that still plague the feminine body.
Jessica Stoller was born in Michigan in 1981 and currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. She received her BFA from the College for Creative Studies, and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Stoller’s work has been reviewed, in such publications as The New York Times, Ceramics: Art and Perception, and N. Pandora Feminist Journal, among others. She has been included in recent exhibitions at Greenwich House Pottery, NY; Wave Hill, NY; Fuller Craft Museum, MA; and Nurture Art, NY. Solo show venues at Hionas Gallery, NY; and The Clay Studio, PA. Stoller has been honored to participate in residencies including the Kohler Arts & Industry Program, WI and The Museum of Arts and Design’s Open Studio Program, NY. A recent Peter S. Reed grantee and a Louis C. Tiffany Nominee, her work is also included in numerous private collections.
Text (edited) and images courtesy of the gallery.
Do you love or loathe these works of contemporary ceramic art? Let us know in the comments.