Morgan MacDonell

Kenyon College

My work draws from the experiences I have had with people, places, and the relationships with materials I have developed. Whether I’m creating a piece that is about the emotional imprint of a moment in time or a piece about the memorialization of the working class and service industry of America, because as a young adult I have found my employment status to be a constant concern and a major influence in my work. Working at a small, mildly famous, donut shop for three years I met many coworkers where I had the opportunity to hear their stories and figure out how they came about working at a donut shop in the outer sprawl of LA County. These stories and lives that I had the opportunity to be involved with and witness made me aware of the practicalities of everyday life along with the cyclical nature of many service industry jobs. The sculptures I make often use time as a formal element to show case the human condition. I believe that an imprint I leave on an object, or material, can be felt as strongly as the imprint left on me by the donut shop I worked in or the emotion felt by a person remembering a past memory. The materials I choose to work with, such as clay, wood, metal, concrete, and general construction material, allow me to make a sculpture that showcases the cyclical nature of being at a dead end job, or being a person in the state of limbo between progression in life and slow days working the cash register. I do this by using raw clay. It is a material that is considered impermanent by association with ceramics or traditional pottery. It is also a material that I find metaphorically to relate to the human condition. Raw clay follows a well-known process where the material goes from plastic and wet to bone dry. There are many influential moments between the time when the clay is wet to when it is dry just as the human condition changes and is influenced by environmental variables and the intent of another person’s hand. The idea of time as an imprint is always conscious in my work. My process, however, is not dictated solely by this idea, but also the changes that occur throughout combining, adapting, or presenting materials in a final form, or completed sculpture. Raw clay, when wet, is a material that has very specific qualities and is heavily influenced by how it is handled and the surroundings it is kept in. Coming from a ceramics background I have a very personal relationship with clay but no longer think of clay solely in a final fired form. I believe raw clay to be just as valid of an expressive material as the concrete I used to cast worker’s tools.

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