Casey Whittier

Photo Credit: Brandon Forrest Frederick

Artist Statement

My work is often born from one of the following experiences: an indescribable feeling of excitement; a nagging contradiction of desire; a need to share something that I cannot yet explain; an obsession; a question or series of questions; a desire to respond to or reflect on a thought, feeling, or event; the recognition of something poignant or absurd; the experience of misunderstanding.

For as long as I can remember, I have been drawn to cast-off objects and quiet spaces — to the things stuck in the corner, at the bottom of the pile. Objects aid us in our humanity: they enhance our existing abilities, offer new opportunities, communicate values, serve as cultural symbols. These inconspicuous objects — perpetrators of the mundane, of wonder, of mystery — are my starting point.

I am interested in an object’s ability to catalyze a story, to conjure up associations: past, present, future, real, fictional, or in-between. The objects in my work are culled from the everyday. Ubiquitous, these are objects of utility and familiarity, made strange by material qualities and formal execution. Through these shifts in material, presentation, and utility, I make space for the metaphorical and imaginative possibilities to rise to the surface.

I see each sculpture and installation as a way to advocate for an intentional relationship with the world. An exploration of touch and intuitive making is deeply embedded in my practice. The systems of construction I use are adopted from historical craft. Although the unit may change from one work to another, these systems highlight the interdependence of each unit upon the whole. I re-purpose as much as possible and design to reduce my energy and material consumption. Craft is concept. Process is concept. Labor is concept.

Clay serves as palimpsest in my practice; I seek to exploit its inherent variations in surface and texture, its ability to mimic, to be thick, thin, ephemeral or permanent. The physical recordings that come through rolling, tearing, squishing, dipping, pushing, pinching and scratching become representations of touch, of thought, of time spent. I consider life in the Anthropocene to be relational: tenuous and thrilling, delicate and precarious, simple and complicated, wry and serious. I ask my work to embody these qualities.