An ongoing connection between organic and geometric structures in my work has played a role in the creation and evolution of each new series. My early sensibilities as an artist were influenced by our built environments, and in particular by tiles and ornament with motifs of flora and fauna.
My reflections on architectural form and surface have been a touchstone, strongly influencing my thinking about the exterior and the interior as having interlaced significance, of shared meaning. These over-arching ideas are perhaps most fully expressed in my current sculptures, wall-reliefs entitled “Disclosure”.
The works are cast with liquid clay in flexible molds, configured to deliberately encourage what at first might be regarded as technical flaws. The random markings and fissures left by the forming process are meant to contrast with the intentionally placed grids and frames. My aim is to render a clear tension between order and entropy. With each piece, the application of monochrome colors, along with various textures, emulate diverse industrial and natural substances, such as metal, salt, coral, oil, confounding the sense of their materiality.
The sculptures provoke in me a need to consider the mystery of their interior, that shallow, folded, compressed space held between two planes or skins. I want the sculptures to allude to an internal state that is like a shield – the human need and impulse to protect, both physically and emotionally. Yet, that shield inevitably yields, frays, and discloses what is beneath and within. My deeper thematic interest is in the end of architecture, the end of the body, its inevitable succumbing to gravity, to decomposition, its return to the earth, and with that, the prospect of growth and renewal.
Cary Esser is the Chair of Ceramics at the Kansas City Art Institute. Her work is in the collections of Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, KS; Daum Museum of Contemporary Art, Sedalia, MO; Archie Bray Foundation, Helena, MT; John Michael Kohler Art Center, Sheboygan, WI, and numerous others.