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Core Reverberation_4

Cynthia Morelli


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Core Reverberation_4

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The Core Reverberation series is based on the emotions contained within our ribcage and pelvis - the area in our body where I imagine our spirit resides. This piece, Core Reverberation_4, is a serendipitous collaboration between me and the kiln. It was the last thing to get loaded into the firebox, propped on the brick it remains on to lift it out of the ash pit and braced between the grate and the wall of the kiln. After the main section was in the kiln, which had a couple ribs attached to it, I was able to pile on quite a few more ribs which became adhered during the firing due to melting ash from the burning wood that fuels the firing. The balance of the whole is the most magical aspect. The running ash and ember encrusted surface transports me to a different realm of time, somewhere in our distant past. Core Reverberation_4 will be on exhibit at the Anchorage Museum as part of Alaska Biennial 2022 until March 2023. It will be available to ship after the exhibit closes.

20"H × 18"W × 12"D
Woodfire stoneware with local clay, natural ash glaze, commercial brick
This piece is encrusted in embers. It is natural that a tiny dust of ash may fall from it.


Working within this small-stature female frame, I search for a definition of female in my sculpture that is raw, impulsive, explosive and exuberant: formidable enough to survive, thrive and be playful. I view these energetic qualities in a positive light and feel it is vital that my impetus to make work stems from who I am - an emotional being within my female physical structure. The sculptures that build my recent installation titled Core Reverberations, are centered around my body’s skeleton. I began by visually constructing the skeletal space where emotions reside in me. That correlates to the relationship in my torso between my pelvis and rib cage. This floating zone contains my heart and the soft center of my gut near my belly button, my sensory core. It expands with breath and rigidifies with fear. My three year old self innately recognized that in my maternal grandmother there was strength shared through tenderness. She and my mother were part of my young life for far too short a time, and over the past year, I’ve been consciously exploring my maternal lineage and how it impacts the marks I make in my work. I’ve long resisted softness as a virtue, because in my gut understanding of our volatile patriarchy, gentleness was a protective skill of going quietly unnoticed, not an indicator of vitality and strength. By asking questions such as, How do I reconcile caregiving as a feminist and what does that tender care look like in my work?, I examine my own preconceptions. Subsequently I ask if and how care and tenderness could be conveyed in what I make. Moving clay gesturally nurtures my need to wander and explore. My mind repeatedly visits my intention, yet strays. Led by the work as it unfolds, I find myself in a more expansive realm than where I began. Sometimes humor is introduced through chance and ambiguity, which brings ease and lightness to my making process. My search evolves intuitively, as I cut, break and tear the clay, removing what I sense as extraneous and adding more when the form asks for that. I trust the dialogue between my eye, hand, material and heart. Porcelain, a clay of perceived fragility, is beginning to find its way to the surface and exterior of some of my forms. For some time, I’ve used this clay in interior spaces, held and protected within coarse stoneware. I’m noting that change. It indicates to me a turning the inside out, an exposure of layers. Discoveries like this during the making process help illuminate and direct my work.

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