Casey Whittier

Artist Statement

My work is often born from one of the following experiences: an indescribable feeling of excitement; a nagging contradiction of desire; 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; 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 material qualities and formal execution. Through these shifts in material, presentation, and utility, I make space for the metaphorical and imaginative possibilities to rise to the surface. I see each sculpture and installation as a way to advocate for a direct and tactile relationship with the world. An exploration of touch and intuitive making is deeply embedded in my studio practice. My research and teaching centers materiality, craft practices, and systems of re-use. Conservation of resources and living within limits is part of my studio ethos. I acknowledge that my practice is not without impact, that my consumption matters, and that my work as an artist and educator extends beyond the objects I produce. Clay serves as palimpsest in my practice; 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 and scratching become representations of touch, of thought, of time spent.

-- Casey Whittier


Casey Whittier received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work investigates the fine line between the need to preserve and the need to re-imagine, re-configure and re-contextualize the world around her. Utilizing a variety of forming methods, Whittier recreates elements from nature, unites the landscapes of her reality with the landscapes of daydreams, exploits the visceral qualities of clay, and ponders the power of shared experience. The physical impressions that come through rolling, tearing, squishing, dipping, pushing, pinching, molding, casting, and scratching become representations of touch, of thought, of time spent. She is an advocate for community engagement through the arts and has been awarded an ArtsKC Inspiration Grant and Artist INC grant for her ongoing Palm Petals project. Whittier currently teaches ceramics and social practice at the Kansas City Art Institute and works from her home studio.

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