Artshack Gallery is pleased to present Amok, a sequence of ceramic works by our Fall 2021 artist in residence Simone Kearney.
In this body of work, Kearney explores her interest in how experience is shaped not only by narratives and arguments, but also by feelings, moods, and atmospheres outside the bounds of language. If it’s through the body – the feeling body – that we apprehend the world before it’s been translated into thought, then those same embodied feelings are also things we’re always catching up to. To “express” means to press out, to obtain by squeezing. Here, Kearney has done just that: pressing pre-verbal content into clay; pressing out feelings that are not abstract or general, but lived and specific. Whether derived from an instance of feeling whimsical, afraid, full of longing, wounded, desiring, divided, blocked, mischievous, ashamed, shy, or wild, each sculpture is made to teeter somewhere between mulch and metaphor.
In many of the earliest cosmogonies, humans are described as being made from mud (“homo” in homo sapiens means humus, or earth). We are made from mud and in turn we make things from mud. Clay is somatic: it retains marks. Urgency can be felt by touch. It is a material conducive to recording the immediacy of felt experience. These objects, as such, are not simply pure emanations of an interior, but are mediated by the material itself. Clay and glaze have also, in turn, impressed and encrusted themselves into the very attempt to find forms for feelings. While the very act of trying to externalize the interior and materialize the immaterial necessarily catalyzes a process of transformation, the medium itself furthers this process. In becoming more of an object, the feelings here become formal feelings: that is, the materials have leant structure to an immaterial interior – they have in-formed, reformed, the very stuff they find form for and of.
In Amok, mute gesture combines with metaphor, archetype, and allegory to create forms—touched before being thought or spoken – that are becoming language. This process is extended through a zine that plays with ways to make sense or non-sense of the objects. Both artist and poet, Kearney’s work reveals and revels in the unsayable as embedded in the very stuff of the sayable, whether in word or in clay.