I create installations that focus on culture, hybridity, artifice, decoration and ornamentation. These environments often include a plethora of craft based traditions such as hand built ceramic vessels, tile work, hand embroidered tapestries, wallpaper, carpets, drawings, paintings, and plinths. I mentally transport viewers to an alternate space where they are confronted with ideas of cultural hybridity that defy the norm. This experience is amplified by the magnitude of visual pleasure, an abundance of objects, handwork, and dense pattern.
In my artwork, I seek to capture the overwhelming nature of experiencing new places and the quiet beauty of local traditions. I am fascinated with cultures that are the most distant from my own. Yet I understand the dangers of Orientalism, the potential other-ing and exploitation that may come from working with foreign cultures. My interest in culture comes from a place of appreciation where I stay open-minded and open-hearted where I focus on the peculiarities of each individual place without judgement or comparison. I use ornamentation and decoration to create a facade of culture, where my objects speak to the fluidity of the world around us by highlighting patterns and forms that blur boundaries and show cultural hybridization. My visual language is a blend of motifs inspired from family traditions combined with foreign symbols, forms, and aesthetics.
My work is a facade similar to theater sets or props, an acknowledgement to something outside of itself. I often start from historical objects that inspire me; I produce work by riffing off of certain aspects of these historic objects from around the world. I am interested in how my imagery is an illusion, a representation of a once real object that now may only exist in the work itself.
My current work is inspired by the Tree of Life motif and ceramic Trees of Life from Mexico. I am intrigued by how this symbol is far-reaching in both history and culture where it is found in sacred spaces, carpets, textiles, sculptures, painting, and literature. My trees incorporate flora and fauna from the nostalgia found in the landscape of my childhood home as well as the plants I come across on my daily walks. Each tree centers on a single motif where they become a self-sustained garden in themselves. These objects represent my past, the present, and my ability to create something that could never exist in real life, my own paradise.
— Stephanie Kantor