Date of Submission

Fall 2013

Academic Program

Studio Arts

Project Advisor 1

Julianne Swartz

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Maeve Dillon


Julianne Swartz

December 2013

Room No. Eight

Clay was the first true material that I felt strongly connected to. I liked both the malleability and control that it gave me; it was forgiving. As a child, I was given clay body to create and express myself. I think this is why I fell back into using clay as a material for my senior project. I understand clay. This is also why I fell into the process of making pinch pots, as the pinch pot is a form I understand as well as clay. Due to personal problems that had arisen at the beginning of fall, I was unable to truly focus on anything academic and found myself artistically stunted. During this period I spent the majority of my studio time starting and stopping various pieces. I began switching materials and venturing down different roads until the day I was given a 25-lb bag of clay. After opening the bag, I made the one thing I was sure I could always go back to: the pinch pot. So I made a lot of them.

What began as a reaction to stress and uncertainty turned into something much more self-reflective. The first iteration developed into a process-focused installation piece that focused itself on the creation of the simple vessel. I began using my body to create these vessels, using the elbow, the kneecap, the heel, and the shoulder. By using my body, I was able to force a gesture through the parts of me that were not my hands, but still related to my own body. Before a two weeks end, I had filled the room and felt a calming sense of completeness. This room is meant to be calming and meditative, as it is a room I continue to go to during times of reflection and uncertainty. I hope that this produces a similar response for those who enter.

Untitled (August 30 – December 6)

These works look into the idea of using a daily practice as a means of self-exploration and reflection. As a person, I consider myself to be very ritualistic and controlled in my everyday schedule. As a reaction to various anxieties I am forced to confront regularly, schedules and timetables help me regain confidence and have allow me to have a stronger sense of safety. Having something that occurs daily is comforting.

This is where the impulse to create my own set of daily practices and rituals using sculpture as my medium came about. In Untitled (August 30 – December 6) repetition and daily practice surrounding the process was crucial. My parameters were clear and simple; everyday I created a single gesture using my hands that would then be covered with plaster and cheesecloth to capture the moment, yielding a daily sculptural work that reflected my day. This daily practice allowed me to encapsulate moments of anxiety, uncertainty, happiness, and anger. This daily practice developed into a collection of 103 castings that were made from August 30, 2013 through December 6, 2013. They occupy the space in a monumental way, yet are composed in such a way that allow for the viewer to experience them personally and intimately.

Untitled Study

What I seek to accomplish in all three bodies of work is the notion of the daily practice. Albeit simple, these daily rituals allowed me to focus on the body, the mind, and the materials at hand. The same idea rings true with Untitled Study, the piece that was created while suspended in midair on November 26 2013. Although it is not a piece that focuses on the daily ritual of creating multiples given a certain set of rules and restrictions, it still fosters the idea of the daily ritual and my relationship I have in regards to my own body through the process I used to create the piece. The amount of planning and experimentation that went into this piece is immeasurable.

This piece creates a connection between all three pieces. In Untitled Study I used the same materials as I did in Untitled (August 30 – December 6), using cheesecloth and plaster to create a full body casting of myself. I wanted to push my body’s limits, which is where the gantry came into play. Being able to experience weightlessness was important for this piece, as it allowed me to push myself and explore different positions that would otherwise be difficult to produce without suspension. While at the time I was unsure how successful this piece was going to be, that uncertainty excited me greatly. I am constantly struggling with my ability to truly trust myself and put myself in a risky situation, but felt as though this danger was necessary for my senior project. The process itself was difficult, awkward, cold, and very uncomfortable, but that was exactly what I sought to explore. The human body’s ability to be so strong and resilient continues to impress. This thought now extends to my own body, where I discovered my own response to risk, and how it can yield a powerful work through my daily practices.

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