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Creative Research Lab

SHIFT (MFA1) - March 2008

Christa Mares

Christa Mares
Por Nada del Mundo Volveria (detail), 2008
mixed media
dimensions variable

In my current work, I choose materials and imagery that are embedded with a personal and cultural history. I am interested in the Mexican tradition of funerary culture. The endearing act of placing an everlasting bouquet of artificial flowers on one's grave seems to provide a renewal or celebration. I think of these artificial flowers as gifts and although a wholesome gesture, they are also an economical and efficient way of redemption. Through the use of terracotta clay, I am referencing a sense of history, permanence and the hand made. In my recent sculptures I am interested in creating similar moments.

Clay forms that resemble busts, heads and/or furniture and caskets are decorated with flowers, crocheted collars, both artificial and real fruit, and iconic plants such as the cactus. Becoming metaphors, the leaves and fruit wilt and deflate. The aging and rotting crete a sense of time. Other sculptures carry the texture of cookie cutter shapes, lattice designs, ruffled fabric or thick icing-like texture. I've chosen colors such as pinks, blues and yellows that look dusty and muted but suggest that they once were bright and vibrant.

Artificial flowers are sometimes arranged, placed on top of or put into vase-like structures. In another moment, flowers become a mass to suggest a giant plume of smoke. These flowers emanate the brightest color in the sculptures. My sculptures are composed of multiple parts, which emphasize qualities such as the familiar and bizarre, the beautiful and grotesque, the joyous, festive and distressed. Although parts of my sculpture wilt and die, there is a celebratory aspect. They simultaneously expire and continue to be full of possibility.