My sculpted paintings merge my interest in the foreign terrain of microbiology with an examination of what Barnett Newman called the “abstract sublime”. These works reference the aim of Abstract Expressionism to induce a strong emotional response with their compositions of unfamiliar growth. Within these works, each individual is absurdly insignificant except for its interconnectedness to everything around them. Gathered en masse, these lifeforms overwhelm the structure upon which they grow. Drawing on the ephemeral works of land artist Richard Long, my Interventions contextualize the microbial forms in the landscape. Despite the accumulating number of cells in each Intervention, they cannot withstand the elements, ultimately returning to the earth.
Just as prehistoric artists recorded their presence using pigments of the earth, I use clay to explore my relationship to the earth and the universe. Sculpture, installation, and drawing allow me to make the unseen tangible. Using clay connects me to rituals and cultures throughout human history. This primordial material bears the memory of the earliest artists, all the way back to the cave of Le Tuc d’Audoubert in France, where a bull and cow sculpted in raw clay have lain for about 15,000 years. I am one of many makers throughout human history who uses this material to explore my link to the rest of the universe. Instead of relying on the ability of fired clay to withstand time, I use raw clay in order to embrace ephemerality. Impermanence enhances preciousness. The things that don’t last demand more careful attention.
— Magdolene Dykstra