Marisa Finos

Artist Statement

Clay is skin, flesh, and bone. It bruises, bends, and breaks. Like the body, it is constantly in flux, able to disintegrate into dust, or calcify into permanence. For me, clay is an extension of myself as a material, and as a means to explore both the fragility of the body in life, as well as its endurance in death.

Vessels is an ongoing series of large-scale site-specific sculptures investigating the bodies and spaces we create, occupy, and leave behind. Inspired by ancient and contemporary burial structures created to honor, protect, preserve, and guide the deceased to the afterlife, each vessel is hand-built coil by coil following the parameters of my own body. Throughout the week-long building process, using anywhere from 600 to 800 lbs of clay, I eventually entomb myself. From within, I use the vessel as a space to further understand my own body and the connections I have to others through isolation, darkness, sound, and vibration. The vessels become potentially transformative portals to contemplate the edges of bodily existence. After my experience inside, I destroy the vessel in minutes and reclaim the material, giving it another life.

-- Marisa Finos


Marisa Finos is a sculptor and multimedia artist currently based in Massachusetts. Her sculptures and performances seek to explore thresholds of consciousness, body, and space. Her work draws inspiration from her own reflections on the experience of death and dying in contemporary culture, and serves as a platform to engage in conversations that challenge current attitudes about mortality.

Finos’ research into various concepts of the afterlife, ancient and contemporary funerary practices, burial structures, mourning rituals, and bodily preservation and decay, informs the objects she creates. Finos is also greatly influenced by women’s traditional roles throughout history as ushers of individuals into both life and death, as caretakers of the dying and handlers of the dead, and as creators of mourning rituals and objects.

Finos earned her MFA in Craft/Material Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, and her BFA in Ceramics from the University of Massachusetts – Dartmouth. She has participated in residencies at Anderson Ranch Arts Center, Vermont Studio Center, and Arteles Creative Center in Finland.