Casey Whittier

Photo Credit: T. Maxwell Wagner

Artist Statement

My work is often born from one of the following experiences: an indescribable feeling of excitement; a nagging contradiction; 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; a deep pain; 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 the material qualities and formal execution of these renderings in clay and glass. Through these shifts in material and presentation, I make space for metaphorical and imaginative possibilities.

The systems of construction I use are adopted from historical craft disciplines. Although the unit or material 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 (my cast glass and clay are reclaimed materials or mixed in small batches and reused until no longer viable) and design to reduce my energy and material consumption. 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.

Clay serves as palimpsest; 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, casting, and scratching become representations of touch, of thought, of time spent. Life in the Anthropocene is relational: tenuous and thrilling, delicate and precarious, simple and complicated, wry and serious. I ask my work to embody these qualities.