Amy ZirklePortland, Oregon

Red Lodge Clay Center – Short-Term Resident 2019

Pacific Northwest based artist Amy Zirkle has been honing her skills in ceramic figurative sculpture for several years. Amy’s work combines her passion for the medium of clay, particularly working with surface and texture, with her interest in the human form and facial features, resulting in an expressionistic narrative that is uniquely her own.  She received her bachelor’s degree in Ceramics from Western Oregon University and has exhibited nationally and internationally including her solo show Amalgamated Fragments in Melbourne, Australia and was awarded a guest artist residency at Northcote Pottery Supplies in Brunswick, Australia.

I am interested in how people react to figurative sculpture, especially the ways in which viewers react to faces. How we read facial features and expressions, judgements we make about race, class, gender and desirability all happen within a few seconds after experiencing a piece of work, very much mimicking judgements we make when encountering each other.  This raises questions about human empathy and how we read, engage, and treat or mistreat one another.

My body of work features ceramic figures, busts and masks that are intentionally stripped of obvious gender markers, unadorned and void of obvious identifiers that signal culturally masculine or feminine identities. Each piece holds a fairly neutral pose, a subtly passive expression and yet there is something there; tension that lies just under the surface. They are purposefully ambiguous. And yet through surface adornment, symbolism, color and texture help to illuminate deeper meaning and narrative. The interpretation that the viewer holds and judgements and conclusions reached are what I want to question and explore.