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Creative Research Lab

SHADE- August 2005

ceramic by Scott Proctor

Scott Proctor
Untitled, 2004
16" h x 14" w x 40" l

Catalog Essay by Breanne Robertson:

Scott Proctor finds inspiration for his sculpture in everyday experiences and interactions. Particularly fascinated with the alternating balance and tension in personal relationships, Proctor translates human behavior into clay by exploring formally varying degrees of stability and instability, dependence and independence, strength and fragility.

Composed from coils of clay, Proctor's sculpture has the appearance of a cocoon or a mummy, protected yet fragile. Yet while mummies and cocoons suggest a timeless, motionless somnolence, Proctor's artwork does not. Bulbous forms taper to protruding, twisting limbs that recall human gestures: a turning head, a craning neck, a bending waist. Abstract, yet anthropomorphic, these sculptures mimic human relationships, and by doing so, force the viewer to reflect on his or her own actions, expressions, and relationships with others.

Proctor believes that every object possesses the ability to tell its own story, but he wants each viewer's specific associations to determine the nature of the tale told. For this reason, Proctor depicts moments of heightened tension, where certain gestures may evoke multiple emotions and the outcome remains uncertain. Since human relationships inform Proctor's work, let us imagine a scenario: a man and a woman face each other on a sidewalk. Both have their heads cast downward, and we cannot read their expressions. The woman appears to move forward, and extends her right arm, perhaps to shake hands. The man at first appears to stride confidently toward the woman, yet he holds his arms behind his back, suggesting that he does not want to engage her. The distance between the two creates tension and a sense of isolation. Are they strangers or do they know one another? Will they meet in the middle or pass on by? Our questions would likely be answered in a matter of seconds, but for this frozen moment, we are confronted with psychological tension and emotional uncertainty.

Like the ambiguous couple on the street, a swollen pod in glazed earth tones leans precariously to one side, appearing as though it might crash to the ground at any moment. Fortunately, a rope tethers the awkward form to the wall and prevents it from falling -- but for how long? The tautness of the cord stresses the impermanence of such a solution, yet the sculpture exists only in this specific moment in time, perched between stability and instability, safety and danger.

Inhabiting the same space as the viewer, Proctor's sculptural objects interact with each other and with the people around them. Confronted with the volume and scale of these sculptures, the viewer will realize that these works do not function merely as objects, but as substitute human beings. The precarious balance present in these works prompts us to consider how we negotiate even the most basic human interactions.