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Ani Dagmar Kasten

Investigating the materiality of the clay is the foundation and focal point for all of my vessels, sculptures and assemblages. I am influenced by natural and geological imagery, and my forms and compositions explore the meeting point of natural occurrence and the human hand. I use wheel-throwing and hand-building techniques to explore the spectrum, breadth and limits of clay. The interactions and relationships between differing clay bodies, which include black or white stoneware clay, porcelain, and locally sourced ‘wild clays’, as well as various types of stone added for texture, are what interest me, as metaphors for more human interactions and relationships. How does porcelain melt with, reject, bend or shrink in response to the proximity of stoneware, or islands of rock? 

My pieces expose the natural tendencies of unadorned clay in conversation with crafted attention to form and surface detail. The work uses clay and other ceramic materials as a metaphor for investigating relationships—our actions as human beings as we form emotional bonds, build, construct and engage with the world around us, both in harmony or disharmony with nature. Eroding, cracking, shifting and transformation are communicated through the vocabulary of ceramic materials. The vestiges of functional objects in my sculptural and vessel work possess ‘hereditary memory’ in their obscured reference to utilitarian objects and artifacts that once had a purpose, now buried, lost and eroded by time. My ceramics manifest temporal beauty infused with loss, change and the rigors of passing time. My practice is about building, making, creating positivity from the surrounding landscape of unavoidable brokenness. In my process I look for the refined within the rough, the beauty in ugliness-- forms imbued with extreme fragility yet exhibiting inner strength, manifesting the contradictions and opposing forces we find in ourselves throughout the human experience.

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