Liz McCarthy: Pens
“The Pen” uses clay and carpet to create a site for material play. The rug in this installation acts as a synthetic ground and compositional confinement for the sculptural clay pieces. The carpet is an artifact of a Midwestern suburban home, where the carpet exists as a material for making the space comfortable, safe, and clean to protect the body, but is also produced from man made materials derived from petroleum, synthetic material designed to repel naturally occurring materials. The clay, pulled from the earth’s crust, acts in resistance to the surface, by marking and embedding itself into the synthetic fibers, producing a filthy site of production.
The clay objects that emerge in “The Pen” are collaborative experiments in form, celebrating the act of mess making and material play. For this particular installation, students and community members are invited to participate in “clay play”, shaping the materials with suggested gestures and forms from the artist that reference ceramic hand-building traditions. After the initial “Clay Play” building of forms, the material, comprised of wet, dry, and fired clay, shift and change on the site as the clay dries and crumbles.
Liz McCarthy works across disciplines to explore themes around the materiality of human bodies, and their complicated physical and psychological relationship to a material world. Through research and studio intervention, she explores how different materials develop meaning through use and origin, and how physical performance can be used as an agent to re-inscribe meaning. Liz McCarthy received her MFA from the UIC studio art program. Her work has been included various group and solo exhibitions internationally at venues such as ACRE Projects, Heaven Gallery, Roots and Culture, Mana Contemporary, Gallery 400, ExGirlfriend Gallery, and Threewalls. She has visited as a resident artist at Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE, High Concept Laboratories, Ox-bow and Banff Centre. In October of 2017 she will be hosting a “Whistle Hangout” performance at the MCA (more info here: https://mcachicago.org/Calendar/2017/10/MCA-Hearts-Chicago/Liz-Mc-Carthy-Whistle-Hang-Out)