As a product of an American father and a Mexican mother, I am influenced by the conflicting expectations I have received as a woman within the two cultures. My studio practice, a ritualization that celebrates and questions my cultural inheritance as a woman, depicts the dichotomies of my heritage through the combination of ceramics and fiber. With a manipulation of traditional processes and materials of domesticity, I begin to bridge the misunderstandings present between the maternal generations of my lineage.
The vessel, symbolically tied to the traditions and expectations of womanhood, acts as a canvas for a discussion between materials and processes deeply rooted in the craft traditions of Mexico. The utilization of these processes explores Mexico’s deep history of class and culture within my own heritage. The use of fiber in combination with ceramic speaks powerfully to how we view utilitarian objects and the experiences associated with them. Symbolically, a vessel keeps not only the physical within but the ephemeral memories of life long after they have passed. The vessels in my work are not meant as objects of utility, instead they serve as vehicles for fiber. As the fiber flows from, weaves into, or frames the ceramic, it distorts the functionality but becomes a meaningful component as plate and cloth merge. The vessels contain an expression of femininity and an essence of personal and cultural history.
My studio practice engages in the preservation of craft traditions by bringing them to a contemporary space. Continuing the conversations woven into the tapestry of Mexican craft, I pick up the threads of those who came before and add my own voice. Through an introspection of values, I begin to understand how clay and fiber directly relate to my lifestyle, cultures, traditions, and expectations. I simultaneously question and celebrate my identity as a woman across the generational and cultural boundaries in my life.
Nicole McLaughlin is a 2020 BFA graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute, MO. She has been awarded the 1st place Award for Excellence, NCECA Juried Student Exhibition, Richard, VA and an Artaxis Fellowship, Haystack, Deer Isle, ME. In 2021, her work has been published in Architectural Digest Germany, My Modern Met, Design boom, and Frankie.