@RMCASEMENT_ART | WWW.REBECCACASEMENT.COM | FLINT, MI | SCULPTURE
I utilize these ingrained material histories to create an illusion of hardness and softness in order to echo the body in various emotive forms.
Rebecca Casement is a visual artist that creates affective abstract sculptures and installations using ceramics, mixed media, and textiles. Her work beautifully calls to attention the moments in life that alter who you are and how you see the world. She receives her MFA in Studio Art from Michigan State University in May, 2020. She was the Glen Arbor Arts Center Artist in Residence in 2019. Her work has been included in several solo, small group, and national juried exhibitions including Tangent Gallery in Detroit, the Michigan Institute of Contemporary Art in Lansing, Michigan, Buckham Gallery in Flint, Michigan, and the Cloyde Snook Gallery in Alamosa, Colorado.
I create honest and emotive abstract sculptures and installations using ceramics, mixed media, and textiles. My creative research is focused on the physiological and psychological impact that occurs when the human body is altered by adverse natural occurrences like disease, or external forces like assault or abuse. I strive to create an intimate look at emotions and experiences that are often considered private, with the goal of giving voice back to those who have experienced adversity.
Reclamations - mixed media - 2020
Can you discuss the sense of balance within your body of work Reclamations? Some pieces seem to invite touch and interaction, while others warn against touch.
In Reclamations, I am seeking to express what happens after that moment of impact. When you are left alone with your pain. It explores the complexity and fragility present in personal trauma along with the subsequent silence and isolation that accompanies pain.
Those who have suffered trauma are left with long-term effects that they must learn how to cope with. This is often made more difficult by the inability to express the rawest emotions and societal norms that put an expiration date on pain. This immersive installation explores the effects of empathy and community in those who have experienced trauma.
To visually represent this I needed to express the present and the past, the internal and external, the touchable and untouchable. I created gestures with the sculptural forms that held like a body in pain. Asking the question, “what do we do when we recognize these gestures in others and in ourselves.” The forms are suspended to create a sense of immobilization and capture a moment in time. Bent and manipulated bandsaw blades are suspended throughout the sculptural forms. They are restrained in their manipulated forms with only wound thread to create a sense of vulnerability and menace. Collections of spheres are below each group of sculptural forms and in opposite corners of the gallery. Some are rested on broken ceramic platforms, some are upside down. These invoke questions of importance and expendability, strength and fragility.
Allay - low fire white earthenware - 2020
Many of your recent works are achromatic; how do you arrive at decisions about color or the absence of color?
Color is inherently emotive. We align colors to feelings without conscious effort. Because I am creating work that is affective in nature, I don’t want to tell the viewer how to feel that directly. I like the idea of using form and texture to tell a story that unfolds as you view it. If I utilize color, it is a secondary line of dialogue. I often use it to create a dichotomy or to create dualities. A bright burst of color in an otherwise solemn piece feels out of place, but also comforting. Just as a laugh does during a time of pain.
When You Go (a part of us goes with you) - low fire red earthenware, wood & sandstone - 2017
Tell us about your material choices. Hardness and softness are both suggested by the objects; how do malleable or rigid properties of materials inform concepts?
Material studies are one of the most important aspects of my art practice. Materials carry societal histories: Plaster gauze is used in the repair of things that are broken, textiles are used to cover and comfort, clay is utilitarian and reliable, metal is strong and used to support or enclose/encase. I utilize these ingrained material histories to create an illusion of hardness and softness in order to echo the body in various emotive forms. To express fragility I layer materials that, individually, are unable to support themselves. I often leave the layers visible to create a sense of vulnerability. I watch and respond to my sculptures as I am creating them. I wait for the push and pull that shows me where I should leave something raw and visceral and where I should explore and refine it.
Clay in particular is a wonderful medium in its ability to record my touch. I can recreate how our bodies are affected by external forces like abuse or assault and internal forces like disease or psychological damage by simply recreating the physical movement into the clay.
Conceptually, we each grapple with hardness vs softness, malleability vs rigidity in both how we act with each other and how we respond to hurts that we have experienced. I’m always trying to draw those connections out in my work in order to create a dialogue about our personal and societal responsibilities in our interactions with each other.
Hard to Swallow & Ruins - low fire white earthenware, steel, laboratory glass & plastic - 2017
To what degree are your forms containers or vessels? What do they contain?
My forms are almost always representing bodies as vessels. The sculptures and installations explore how physiological and psychological histories created through trauma initiate new ways of living. The body is an archive of all verbal and physical actions inflicted upon it. The forms expose the consequences of these histories visibly on our bodies, but also in the places inside us that can’t be seen so clearly. They represent all of the things we hold inside ourselves. The private, the painful, the joyful, the intimate. They hold our personal histories and our collective history as people.
Untitled No. 3 from Stitches Series - aluminum screen & steel - 2019
Many pieces feature physical connections, either to themselves or to other pieces.Can you elaborate on your formal and conceptual use of these connections?
How we interact with each other is at the conceptual base of my work. Some people don’t fit well together, some support each other, some destroy each other. I am often showing the results of the negative interactions, but I balance that with a call for community, humanity, and care. I think we are really seeing right now our need to feel connected on a more intimate and personal level. Even before the Covid 19 pandemic there was a growing desire to have spaces where people could hang out, work together, and socialize outside of the digital realm. Coffee shops, maker’s spaces, community gardens are all physical manifestations of this desire for connection.
By creating sculptures that are in dialogue with either parts of themselves or to other sculptures via color, texture, or proximity, I construct a visual connectedness. Accentuating or subverting these visual cues gives the sense of inclusion or isolation. Layering all of these elements establishes a storyline of how our interactions can create or destroy connections between people.