Saturday, January 16, 2010

Pottery #9 - Through the Looking Glass - art on clay by Laura Hewitt


Laura C. Hewitt

Laura's Personal Statement

I read a lot of critical theory and contemporary philosophy, virtually anything from off beat writers that just avoid sinking 
into the quagmire of paranoid conspiracy theory, to the academically validated venues of Jacques Derrida, Avital Ronell and 
Gilles Deleuze. I've found various theoretical works to be highly useful tools in my art practice. I'm particularly interested in 
recombining or intersecting visual images, materials or concepts that are generally presented as dichotomous such as 
natural/technological, male/female, art/craft, personal/public, old/new, real/simulacra. I like to challenge the status quo of 
popular perception, not as a critical negation, but as a potentially ironic rethinking.

Idealistic metaphysical concepts like Beauty and Truth annoy me. I am not interested in universal myths or research into the 
cause of things. The inspiration and raw material for the practical application of critical theory derives primarily from my 
personal life experiences. The frustration of a mechanical difficulty, the title of a song, the tedium of domestic chores, a 
miscommunication with my dentist, a midnight snowmachine ride, an email conversation, just about anything can inspire a 
series of work. Sometimes I relate a theory to a life experience, sometimes it's the other way around and sometimes I've 
been obsessing about an aspect of a theory for so long that I find it everywhere no matter how impossibly unrelated it 
initially seems. Often the challenge is to find the way to get diverse materials and ideas to work together.

The charm of visual art to me, and the charm of its practice, is its chaos, impracticability, irrationality, rebelliousness, 
messiness and flux. I never know where my recipe for art:

* have a life experience
* add a cup of theory
* sprinkle irony on top

might take me, but I am always looking forward to the journey.  (

As part of my ongoing posts on 'pots' in my collection, I'm showing these images of works by Laura Hewitt, from Ester, 
Alaska, along with her quotes. Although I don't think the bow hunting aspect necessarily defines her, I was intrigued enough 
to include quotes from her 2005 talk with the authors and an audience for the project Trappings:
For six years, artists Tiffany Ludwig and Renee Piechocki have interviewed over 500 women from across the United States 
asking them to respond to the question: what do you wear that makes you feel powerful? This question is the heart of their 
project Trappings.

Trappings is an artwork that begins by asking women to respond to the question: what do you wear that makes you feel 
powerful? While the project begins with a question about clothing, the project is not about fashion and to a large extent is 
not even about clothing. Through its multiple parts, Trappings ignites conversations about the meaning and expression of power.

Trappings has evolved to include several parts:

Interview sessions where groups of women are asked to respond to the question: what do you wear that makes you feel 
powerful? Since 2001, over 530 women from 15 states have participated in the project

A public archive of our particpants' portraits, quotes, and audio interviews on our website:

Exhibitions and public art installations
The book Trappings: Stories of Women, Power and Clothing published by Rutgers University Press

Listen to the audio here.

Laura's answer to the question was the camouflage - which relates to her frequent bow hunting of Black Bears up north of the Yukon River, in Alaska. She describes a frightening event with a Grizzly Bear after days of solitary waiting being camouflaged (which includes scents: even a recent meal with garlic would have been out of question), up on a tree at her bear-bait, waiting for her usual  Black Bears to appear (it is illegal in Alaska to hunt larger Grizzly Bears at baits).

Shot bottle.

Pinned Moth 8/8, glazed lithograph on clay.


Laura Hewitt
Camouflage and Mimicry: The Path of Resistance, 2003
Watercolor and computer print on silk, 76 x 48 cm

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