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Phyllis Kaye     Biliana Popova




Artist Statement & My Bodies of Work

My post 2004 body of work consists of two major types: Figurative objects and Objects of Function. The Figurative focuses on the female figure in today’s society. It addresses gender roles, the fragility of inner peace, and the impact of domestic violence. In my Objects of Function, I am trying to convey to the viewer a visual essence of our lives and surroundings through contrasting black & white lines and vivid colors.

I create female figures because I can relate to them. They conjure fragility with soft outlines and no faces. The heavy bottoms ground them to the earth and the roundness makes them believable female prototypes. When I first started the white series, my focus was on creating figures with a pure white finish, the symbol of innocence and purification. White is light, which are the spiritual and the divine, the source of goodness and the ultimate reality. It is the harmony within. In contrast, the patches on some of the figures’ chests symbolize sorrow, loss and depression. Adding the patch was an outcome of certain events of violence that outraged me with their brutality and inhumanity.

The Rust Figures were born from different emotions. I wanted them to be earth-bound. They relate to the elements of rust: iron, water and oxygen. Being like iron is being very strong, naturally magnetic. It also reflects great physical and mental strength. Water and oxygen are elements, essential for life. Therefore, iron, water and oxygen as one relate to the heart and fundamentals of life. My vision was to convey a feeling of earthiness and warmth in the Rust Figures.

My Objects of Function have black and white lines and vivid colors, some with lichen-like surfaces. The symbolism of the horizontal lines reflects the temporal world and the vertical reflects the spiritual reality. The correlation of both reflects the man-made, the synthetic and the artificial. The bright vivid colors reflect the nature of the earth, the sky and all the joyful vegetation around us. My emphasis is the diversity of the two, in contrast to each other.

My pieces are all hand built from stoneware, using simple tools like hardwood tools for modeling, metal kidney shapes for scraping and smoothing, and needle tool for cutting the clay. Particular attention goes to the surface, which is usually sanded for many hours to smoothness to resemble a canvas-like surface. I use a variety of glazes and colored slips. The series of white figures have a finish of white terra sigillata, which is super-refined clay applied and burnished with the palm of my hand and then low-fired. I strike for surface perfection, although the little imperfections are what remind us that they are made by human hand.