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Betsy Alwin

Hardcore Objects.

Porcelain Perspective.

From Betsy Alwin:

The sculptures and installations I make incorporate lace, cast ceramic slip forms and mixed media.  Over several years I have developed a process of casting and hand carving ceramic lace.  The use of lace pattern is a very specific choice.  I wanted to convey strength through delicate form.


The guipure lace that I use provides a structural balance between negative and positive space where forms are airy but are capable of supporting themselves and the weight of other materials.  The development of this body of work

came at a time when I felt a need to make something beautiful that would reflect the many complex contradictions that life presents.


The slip cast objects take the shape of tools, architectural components, infrastructure and the human body.  I work with these because they are objects from the world that we understand to intrinsically embody structure, weight and stability.  However, when rendered in lace as porous and delicate, they evoke a tension between strength and beauty.


When I am making these sculptures I am thinking about this relationship.  I use porcelain because it embodies both properties of durability and fragility.  I choose to work with blues because they heighten the surface texture.  The blue against the porcelain body refers to the traditional styles of ceramic ware and the structural line-work of blueprint drawing making them familiar and intricate.  As perforated lace forms, they are brought forth to be experienced as delicate and textural.


In larger works, I have been incorporating flocked rebar, wood and cast rigid foam to create new compositions.  The introduction of manipulated natural and industrial materials creates context for the ceramic forms that heighten the haptic experience of surface and texture.  The surface treatments and material transformations within these new works play with our common understanding of material knowledge.  By transforming such mundane materials as rebar and foam, they disrupt expectations of rigidity, weight and texture.  Rebar becomes fuzzy and limp; anvils become squash-able foam.  In this way, they use the language of building and construction to talk about impermanence,

and to conjure other existential questions about facticity

and authenticity.

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