Taking on the look of specimens in an interstellar zoo, Walter McConnell’s raw clay sculptures at Cross MacKenzie Gallery combine biology with technology.
McConnel’s latest exhibition (Washington D.C., September 12 — October 10, 2015) was a series of monumental, site-specific clay sculptures that are sheathed in plastic for casual study. It ran concurrently with another exhibition at Katzen Arts Center. Seeping moisture, the sculptures come across as living creatures. It’s a synthetic life; beyond being made of clay, the sculptures were constructed with body-scanning technology. The gallery states:
The Katzen installation will feature an encapsulated unfired clay figure created from a high-tech, three-dimensional body-scanner and rapid prototyping of the artist himself, which will emerge from the heaps of clay earth beneath. The nude, made of the same raw material – references the beginnings of life itself. McConnell’s earlier installations with titles like “Itinerant Edens” and “Effluvial Bloom” acknowledged that subject directly. His Adam appears alienated and alone, walled off in the hazy plastic environment, made unclear whether this Eden is the dream of earthly paradise or the remains of a once fertile garden. The viewer is left to wonder whether the shifting world McConnell creates is out of reach because that perfect world is only in our imaginations – remove the protective thin layer of plastic sheet and the whole sculpture turns to dry dust.
Professor McConnell teaches at the New York State College of Ceramics, Alfred University, according to the gallery. His awards and prizes include The Joan Mitchell Foundation, Individual Artist Grant, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, Individual Artist Grant, multiple year Grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He has installed his monumental works in many museums such as the Denver Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Museum Het Kruithuis, Den Bosch, Netherlands, MASS MoCA, North Adams, Massachusetts, the Ceramic Museum, Taipei, Taiwan and the Daum Museum in Missouri.
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