MFA Thesis Exhibit

Rose Schreiber

Ceramic Art

Artist Statement

Like the shadow of an idea not yet fully thought, a shadow

from the future… the ecological thought creeps over other

ideas until nowhere is left untouched by its dark presence.

Timothy Morton, The Ecological Thought


The process of decay is at the same time a process of

crystallization, that in the depth of the sea, into which sinks

and is dissolved what once was alive, some things "suffer a

sea-change" and survive in new crystallized forms... as

"thought fragments," as something "rich and strange”...

Hannah Arendt, Illuminations


Deathly assemblage of sticks. Procession of snapped limbs, full of channels and holes, cloaked
under foamic glass skin. Branches that pitch and lean into one another. Look close: they are
floating. They are barely touching-of-the-ground. Swept up by a current of peroxide, they have
amassed as driftwood on a phantom bank. Such alluvial accretiveness, such natural disrepair, that
you wonder: are they a made thing or a found thing? Were they pulled, as ghostly detritus, from
the silty floor of a salt lake? Or were they authored in some wholly human way—created in human
image, suffused with human meaning?

These ceramic sculptures are made by applying clay slip to dead organic matter and then burning
that organic matter away. Materials such as roots and branches, bark, rope, string, fabric, and
netting serve as molds. Once fired, these molds turn to ash, their life forms preserved as static,
hollow voids. They become, in a sense, palimpsests—empty signs of their former selves. Both
absent and present. Fired in undulating beds of sand, many of them hover just above the ground.
This hovering calls to mind spirits, shadows, ghosts. A weather of elegy surrounds them, has
perhaps washed them ashore.

Shadow and substance. Netting and mesh. These are the dueling, metastasizing visual metaphors
this work engages—metaphors that speak, not simply within the narrow purview of ‘nature’ and
‘the environment,’ but to questions about how we apprehend knowledge and other beings in the
broadest sense. The larger ecocritical significance of these metaphors lies in how they position and
conceptualize the non-human, material world: whether they impose upon it a static, orderly, and
anthropocentric worldview, or whether they drive us to recognize interconnection, contingency,
and enmeshed subjectivities.