Kirsten Stingle & Lorraine Glessner
Shadow Circus: Kirsten Stingle and Lorraine Glessner
September 28 – December 15, 2013
“Life is Our Dance Between Light and Shadow”…Beneath the polite, monochrome veneer of societal etiquette and social norms there is a limitless spectrum of emotional layers that define us. Society recognizes the common threads of light we share as humans, such as empathy, joy and enlightenment. However, this is only a slice of our internal structure. We are also comprised of hues that live in the shadow of our consciousness. They can be tragic, playful, erotic, defiant or brutal. These layers are difficult to reconcile with our idealized self. We try hard to ignore or deny them. However, they exist in all of us and how we deal with these shadow layers define who we are as individuals and drive the choices we make.
Shadow Circus examines the individual’s journey through light and shadow. The intent is not to define every aspect of the human condition nor dwell only in the darker emotional realm we keep hidden, but to instead explore how humans struggle and adapt to the strata of the emotional landscape that colors our existence and the way we see the world.
Shadows blend beneath the polite veneer of Southern hospitality and beauty that are at once rich, playful, tragic and brutal. Where there is light there are shadows, and through the tradition of Southern storytelling the shadows are explored in an attempt to understand more about ourselves and others. I have blended the worlds of light and shadow in contemporary ceramics. As a native of the South, I fuse richly detailed porcelain figures and mixed media to create narratives that expose the layers of our character in a sympathetic manner. The intent of the piece is not forced on the viewer. Instead, I strives to keep each narrative open to interpretation with messages of both light and dark in order to invoke a dialogue. While each one-of-a-kind sculpture speaks to the contemporary role of the individual, the stories remain rooted to a shared history. I often employ relics from old farms, closed factories, or simply discards gathered throughout the land. These found artifacts allude to a complex history and informs the narrative of each piece, just as our own history informs our stories and journey through life. As a storyteller, I believe that the shadows in our lives are not something to keep hidden, but define who we are whether we are conscious of them or not. With these qualities in mind, my ceramic narratives depict the soul’s struggle towards self-identity in an age characterized by isolation.
My background as a textile, interior and graphic designer combined with my profound interest in maps and geology has inspired me to explore how the earth, the body and the grid intersect. I use satellite-imaging software to study how the grid organizes, divides, connects and interlaces life. The graphic patterns of community borders, urban grids, suburban development clusters and sinuous superhighways create amazing graphic patterns. Yet, as sprawl continues to scourge, cut and form the earth’s surface, working with, as well as against its natural tendencies, it leaves a strikingly beautiful as well as horrifying, mark. Grid-based patterns and earth marks emerge in my work through the use of materials and processes such as wood, hair, beeswax, silk, cotton, fire, rust and plant staining, all of which speak to and embody life and life cycles. Layers of disparate ornamental pattern interweave throughout the work and represent historical change, cultural differences and the passage of time. As these patterns fuse together, they splinter, fragment and regenerate, acting as a metaphor for the volatility and vulnerability found in the relationships between earth and humankind and between humans themselves. With this work, my intent is to create technologically organic landscapes that read as a palimpsest on which personal, political and cultural histories and identities are metaphorically illustrated.