My experiences in nurturing bodies that couldn’t nurture themselves are what influence and guide my artwork. Caregiving allowed me to observe varying degrees of vitality, weakness, and exhaustion as expressed by infantile, elderly, and deceased bodies. While it wasn’t always easy or pleasing, caregiving instilled in me a curiosity and respect for our corporeality. I found that a body at rest can simultaneously provoke visceral reactions and disrupt one’s notion of the sacred. Oftentimes, these moments compelled me to reconsider both my material existence and my immaterial spiritual assumptions.
Using clay, fabric, and cast-off materials like hair, I make abstracted sculptures and textiles that reference the body, its textures, and its absence in order to make sense of these encounters. The sculptures, vessels, and textiles I create share a fecund palette of whites, creams, pinks, and reds. Through my use of color and a tenderness in material handling, I aim to hold abjection at bay and celebrate the body as a redemptive entity, while also acknowledging its ephemerality and eventual failure. Each piece is intended to serve as a reminder of our complex and vulnerable sensuality, and a reverence for the body hums at the core of my work.
-- Michelle Laxalt
Michelle Laxalt received her BFA from the University of Nevada, Reno and will graduate with her MFA as a Welch Fellow from Georgia State University in Summer 2017. Using ceramics, textiles, and other materials, she creates figurative sculptures that serve as reminders of the body. She has exhibited nationally in both invitational and juried exhibitions.