September 2018: Michael Vos & Michele Collier
Michele Collier is a ceramic artist that stretches, compresses twists and tears the clay to match the image in her imagination. She works to preserve the fluidity of the slab while manipulating it to express the figure in motion. The clay remembers every touch and each piece faithfully preserves the evidence of its birthing process. “I look for the edge where consciousness leaves judgment behind. I want to cultivate that moment in the creative process when I trust my inner self completely. I draw upon my own feelings and memories to create art that connects with the viewer in a way that is uniquely intimate. I plan each piece with a series of sketches before ever touching the clay. Only once I can feel what I want, do I dig in and set about creating it. I start by rolling the clay into a slab. I tear away large swaths and add them back again as I keep working. When the slab has taken on the right energy, I begin my unique construction process. As I stretch and compress the clay, I feel as though it comes to life. The surface of the slab becomes the very human-like surface of the sculpture.
Michael Vos has developed an ongoing body of work entitled Dead Cities, which is a documentation of abandoned and forgotten places across the world. Dead Cities is predicated on the idea that if humans collectively disappeared suddenly and mysteriously, what would the world look like without us? My answer to this question is a visual narrative that uses literary inspirations such as magical realism, subtle horror and alternate history. My work documents houses, schools, factories, towns, zoos and everything that has been cast aside and forgotten. When I photograph an area I’m very careful not to tamper with the already existing atmosphere; I leave whatever I find exactly as it had been for both ethical and artistic reasons. The intention is to immerse the viewer into an alternate history of the world, one that exists without direct human influence, and one that is difficult to place in the timeline of human history as we know it. This body of work stands as an abnegation to the idea that desolation is inherently distressing. As nature reclaims these forgotten places we slip further away from the fog of the past and our civilization is fully enveloped in the wild embrace of chaos.