Chanda Zea

Artist Statement

My sculptural work draws from my interest in the rapid evolution of our means of communication, and the implications this holds for personal interactions. Modern technology and virtual communications have enabled us to share and acquire information on a global level. Maintaining friendships and relationships with people in distant parts of the world has become as easy as a Skype video call, chatting on Facebook or sending a text message. Social networking is a yin/yang equation. We are able to develop and maintain connections all over the globe as fast as we can type, and yet there is a large degree of anonymity in those relationships, if they are not accompanied by actual face-to-face encounters.

I translate these thoughts on our modern communication systems into formally arranged sculptural works composed of groups of softly gleaming white slip cast components. Speaking in practical terms, when creating multiples it makes sense to use a mold and then cast the components, rather than creating each one individually. Forms can be altered to make them more individual, just as each person’s upbringing contributes to their unique personality traits. Limiting my color palette to the burnished white of the porcelain casting body adds to the uniformity and anonymity of the slip cast components.

I am interested in the conceptual implications of multiple forms that initially emerge from molds as identical components. Slip casting as a method of making has strong connections to the loss of individuality that the use of mass communications and the Internet bring to our social interactions, and the man-made, plastic, technological devices that conduct these interactions. More and more the elements of our every day lives are machine made parts that can be purchased and used all over the world. From our laptops and cell phones to our clothing and household goods, the majority of the items that we come in contact with on a daily basis are mass-produced by anonymous workers in a far off country. We have exacerbated this facelessness with our increased addiction to and reliance on virtual social networks to facilitate communications and social interactions. The abstract, colorless forms that I create are representational of this trend. Uniformity and a lack of unique and identifiable characteristics is one facet of using virtual communications to establish social relationships.

I incorporate found objects in combination with the multiple slip cast porcelain forms to create visual and contextual contradictions within the work. Bright acrylic knitted doilies act not only as a physical counterpoint to the smooth porcelain in material, color and form, but also create a conceptual contrast with their references to handicraft, nostalgia and an era when the internet, cell phones and “social networking” did not exist. Bright orange construction barrier speaks not only of grids, networks and modernity, but adds a strong formal element to the work, while reminding me of winters in Buffalo, when we had to staple “snow fence” across our windows to prevent the snowplows from breaking the glass.

-- Chanda Zea