Personal histories are sometimes filled with and fed by antiquated images. American children absorb many images that nurture and define their capacity for empathy. My work questions how images and narratives shape empathy and, more importantly, distort and hamper empathy. Have we arrived at a place where our devaluation of the individual drives us to exert power over the weak? Is the power of human empathy waning in American culture? My source material for this question is my own childhood reader, A.B. Baker’s Young Years: Best Loved Stories and Poems for Children (1971, Parents Press Magazine). Filled with insensitive imagery, antiquated terms, and unsettling archetypes, this reader was both fascinating and damaging. The peculiar quality of the illustrations and stories have deeply marked how I see, experience, and question the world around me. Odd and uncanny characters warrant further examination to expose the absurdity of their symbolic function. While addressed to children as role models, many characters reinforce unhealthy stereotypes and behaviors. In the guise of wolves, bears, and evil old women, danger lurks in the shadows to catch you off guard. I attribute my distrust and suspicion in humanity to this text where characters have evil ulterior motives. I constantly question the deeper meaning in other’s actions. This leads me to question how empathy is, more often than not, inadequately formed
-- Debbie Quick
Debbie Quick, the owner of clay ground LLC., is an artist and educator with over 20 years of instruction and art-making experience. She received her B.F.A. in ceramics with teaching certification from Tyler School of Art at Temple University and her M.F.A. in ceramics from the School of the Arts at Virginia Commonwealth University. Since 1999, she has taught in public schools, provided private lessons, coordinated and participated in community programs, taught ceramic classes, and instructed at the undergraduate and graduate level. She has received the following residencies; Soaring Gardens, the Rodin Artist in Residence at the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Studios at MASS MoCA, Monson Arts, a Fiskars. Quick was the inaugural 2017-18 faculty research fellow in the Arts Research Institute at VCUarts. Her work has been shown regionally and internationally, including as part of the Tasmeem conference in Doha, Qatar. Recent solo exhibitions were “Remnant Accumulation” at Sediment Gallery, Richmond, VA and “Errant” in the Up Front Gallery at ArtSpace, Raleigh, NC.