May 11th 2018

What is whole without a part? What is a part without a whole? In Handles Expenditure, Liz McCarthy explores pulled clay handle forms, cast through a traditional wet pulling process performed with her body. Her hand was the tool for making the form, and the traditional handle form was intended to be held by a hand. The protrusions in this installation are represented as forms autonomous from a vessel, rendering them useless, purposeless, excess, expenditure. We expect the handle to be mounted, connected, useful in its position to the cup. There are many forms we expect to have use; tireless and familiar, like a body and a vessel, specified rather than ambiguous. A vessel is expected to be a container, and the body seeks to consume its contents. The handle mediates this connection and in merging two vessels – body and cup – both forms intended to empty and fill.

Liz McCarthy’s work explores humans’ physical and psychological relationship to material and how it develops meaning. She considers her own body to be a prominent material in her sculptural and photographic work. In projects over the past few years, she has used clay as a thematic material. It is a material that has developed in the earth over the course of millions of years, used by humans for over 35,000 years, and still used today. Clay is familiar because it is deeply embedded in a humanist tradition, and in some ways synonymous with our own malleable and fragile human bodies. By physically shaping clay and documenting those processes, the artist explores how clay and her own bodily material develop meaning through use and origin, using performative elements to reinscribe meaning.

Liz McCarthy is interested in the complex history of humans’ relationship to the material world. She mixes elements of sculpture and performance to explore and reinscribe material meaning. Liz recently finished her MFA at UIC, and received a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville. She regularly exhibits in Chicago and throughout the Midwest, and was nominated a “Chicago Break Out Artist” by NewCity Magazine in 2017. She was recently was in her first exhibition abroad at ExGirlfriend Gallery in Berlin. Her artistic projects have been supported by Joan Mitchell Foundation, Illinois Arts Council, and Chicago’s Department of Tourism. She has participated as Artist-in-Residence as Atlantic Center for the Arts, ACRE, High Concept Laboratories, and Banff Centre. Liz has also worked as a curator with ACRE Residency; she was the Co-Founder and Directing Curator of Roxaboxen Exhibitions from 2009-2012.

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