The sculptures of Christina West
Atlanta-based sculptor Christina A. West presents herself as “an avid people watcher with a dry sense of humor”. She observes human behavior and highlights the relationship with the other through gestures that express a sense of alienation, of isolation within the group, a result of the failure to understand the precise feelings and thoughts of the other beyond what he/she chooses to reveal. We all are strangers, we never truly know what exists behind the mask, that is why slicing the head to find nothing that would solve this curiosity is another irony the artist introduces in her recent busts.
Most of the figures show ordinary people, nearly naked, overexposed through their nudity, and vainly trying to hide a part of their body or their faces to avoid their vulnerability being noticed. Often, tension emerges from the mere juxtaposition of two sculptures, especially of a man and a woman, and this unwanted and unsettling intimacy creates a state of insecurity and discomfort. Then, there is the gaze, absent or staring yet incapable of a direct confrontation, rather avoiding to meet, as it would also increase vulnerability or the possibility of being judged. Thus, the need to escape the group, of introversion.
The bold colors the artist uses either enforce the idea of the group, the burden of the undesired intersection and temporary belonging, while in some cases point to a certain behavioral pattern or contribute to the identity and story of the character – the portrait of a cool guy, for example, would not be as relevant without the vice shown in color, as well as details such as the frown and glasses.
Christina West is currently an Associate Professor of Ceramics at Georgia State University.
‘Intimate Strangers’, 2015, painted Aqua Resin, tallest figure is 44” tall
‘Stranger #5’ and ‘Stranger #4’, 2014, painted Aqua Resin, 27” tall
‘Pause’ (detail), 2015, painted Aqua Resin and video projection, figure is 7 ft tall. Part of the group exhibition ‘Pause’, at the Zuckerman Museum of Art in Kennesaw, GA.
‘Ghost’, 2013, mdf, paint, ceramic, silver leaf, 38’’ tall x 11’’ x 11’’
‘Unmet #9’, 2015, pigmented Ultracal and Hydrocal, 16.5’’ tall
‘Portrait of a Cool Guy’, 2014, glazed ceramic, 16’’ tall x 8’’ x 8’’
All images © Christina West