You have heard the expression, “like a bull in a china shop,” but what if that bull was the china? Kristy Leverock, a BFA student at IUS, sculpts quasi-animals out of clay and then applies cobalt blue flower decals to their bodies giving them the appearance of the blue and white ware of China. Some of the pieces are further decorated with silver or gold horns and hooves, which bring a distinct refinement to her imaginary animal kingdom.
Leverock’s exhibit “A Delicate Conversation” features 8 sculptures that were spawned from her trip to Yellowstone National Park this past summer. She was awarded the prestigious Regina Brown Undergraduate Fellowship from the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) for her proposal to tour the Park in order to do wildlife research for a future exhibit. The animals in the exhibit are not exactly from direct life, instead, Leverock has created her own breed of animal, which may be in direct response to the way she feels humans manipulate the animal kingdom.
In her statement, Leverock says, “I find that humans treat their relationship with animals as a power struggle for dominance. It would appear by human action that animals are perceived as a nuisance or threat. Animals that intimidate people are chased out or eradicated. I believe that this creates a loss in the human experience with our natural environment. With the disappearance of the natural world, we are losing something beautiful and delicate because it poses a slight threat. We replace the natural world with what makes us feel safe and comfortable. Treating wild animals as indifferent and ‘the other’, and only allowing ourselves to interact with the obedient and classifying ‘good animals’ as the most anthropomorphic.”
Leverock positions her animals in odd and uncomfortable poses with lawn furniture and what looks like grandma’s “good chairs” from the living room. This adds to the struggle that she is trying to portray of animals having to conform to encroaching humans. The setting is unnatural for these animals, which is evident in their body language as well as their exasperated facial expressions. Leverock has also paired these sculptures with matching empty chairs to encourage viewers to sit and study these creatures as well as converse with them, if you are so inclined.
“A Delicate Conversation” is on view at the Arts Council of Southern Indiana, 830 E. Market Street, New Albany, IN, and runs through Jan. 13th.
Also, be sure to check out the IUS Student Clay Sale that is going on at the Arts Council. Kristy’s animal cups, as well as the pieces from her exhibit, are available for purchase.
photo: You'd Better Get Used To It (male) by Kristy Leverock