Abnormality: Formal Explorations in Adaptation andMutation

by Nicolin Baird Haines

Institution: Kent State University
Year: 2017
Keywords: Fine Arts; Ceramic Sculpture; Mutation; Abnormality; Heterozygosity; Pomocentricity; Environmental Art; Toxicity; Human Impact
Posted: 02/01/2018
Record ID: 2222131
Full text PDF: http://rave.ohiolink.edu/etdc/view?acc_num=kent1493287561812018


Alluding to botanical forms and cumulativeabnormalities, my work confronts the viewer by providing a surrealembellishment of possible future mutations. I establish anunsettling reality that examines how our exploitation of thenatural world impacts life. Through explorations of texture and useof ceramic material my sculptures provide a visceral assessment ofthis impact. Consecutively, Earths history has demonstrated itsability to adapt and survive through calamity and destruction. Likean infection or disease, human activity is the planets biggestthreat, causing repercussions detrimental to all life. I examinethese ideas by creating objects afflicted with their own mutationsthat are both seductive and threatening, and by doing so I hope tocreate a moment of reflection on the impingement of our existence.Iam consistently drawn to botanical species as inspiration for mywork and I use them as references to create organic forms. Ireference seed pods because of their seductive qualities whilesuggesting environmental distress through mutation. I am interestedin the function of a seed pod as an inherent origin to life and thesymbolic duality of the world as a seed pod for mankind. I obtaininsight for rendering mutation through research and recognition ofthe impact of pollution and toxic waste. This is where I examinethe impacts of our existence and incorporate a balance betweenbeauty and disgust. I research visual references relating to seedpods, vegetative species, and mutation. Through a combination ofslips, glazes, and numerous firings I arrange nuances of color upona cracked and scale-like surface with foaming craters illustratinga reaction to mankinds continuous disregard to our environment. Insuggesting dramatic mutations, I am carefully establishing a systemof growth and existence while imagining possibilities of evolution.To emphasize this balance of a beautiful yet hazardous world, Ihave re-appropriated large oil drums and painted them white tofunction as pedestals for my work. As a man-made object tied toindustry, these oil drums help to frame the work specificallybetween the consequences of pollution or toxic waste and its impactupon the natural world. The tops of the oil drums contain my owntoxic solutions of reclaimed stoneware, porcelain slip, foodcoloring, and canola oil, imitating the coloring and textureswithin the ceramic sculptures which rest upon them, also alludingto the connection between pollution and natures fight to survive.Amidst seduction and disgust, I want my work to act as a catalystfor self-reflection on the human impact on Earth and to facilitateconfrontations where the viewer cannot help but become drawn to thework and therefore can no longer ignore our part in environmentaldemise.Advisors/Committee Members: Johnson, Peter (Advisor).