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I create ceramic figures as an exploration of the anxieties, discoveries, and lessons learned when young women come-of-age in a materialistic consumer culture. My sculptures reference Portal Fantasy: a literary genre featuring a protagonist’s journey through a magical passageway to another world. In a Portal Fantasy tale, a protagonist finds herself thrust into a land where nothing makes sense and she doesn’t know how to fit in. Young women in the US receive messages about themselves from product marketing and mass media that can feel as overwhelming and nonsensical as Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole. As Portal Fantasy features lush, dreamlike worlds teeming with magical creatures, I lavish detail upon my pieces to signal that they come from a world such as these. However, all is not well in paradise, as magical beasts and their human companions are strapped into restrictive or ridiculous costumes, a reference to the strictures of appearance, dress, and behavior targeting young women throughout and indeed long after their coming-of-age years. Oversexualized products and expectations of behavior aimed at young women tame their youthful exuberance in exchange for a doll-like passivity. In response to this I find it important to emphasize the unkemptness, the wildness of the figures. The relationship between these beasts and their human companions is left ambiguous, reflecting how women’s feelings about societal expectations can often be complex and ambivalent. These wild animals and their unruly human companions leap and tumble through the space they inhabit, giving a sense of unmoored tumult. I portray characters in the messy and disorienting process of seeking their truth in an unfamiliar yet strangely recognizable land.

A Work In Progress