this september i had the opportunity to visit the beth cavener stitcher exhibition at the claire oliver gallery in chelsea, new york and in all honesty, i can’t remember the last time i was this impressed with art, let alone contemporary art.


the adoration (from van eyck)

“beth cavener stichter addresses controversial, potentially embarrassing subject matter head on and in direct opposition to the reputation of her chosen medium, clay. by employing this classical genre and emphasizing its primitive and raw characteristics, cavener stichter intentionally provokes art-world prejudices. the artist thrives in the depiction of the provocative, blatantly contradicting the traditional and comfortable uses of her medium and imagery. cavener stichter explores child abuse, pornography, self loathing, and insecurity through elegantly crafted goat, hare, and hound proxy. “i select animal subjects,” she says, “since the animal body is removed just enough from my own to establish a distance, yet the personal relationship is irresistible.. here, i become far enough away from myself to unravel questions previously tangled in a self-conscious quagmire.”” (via here.)

admittedly, provocation through art in nothing new. on the contrary, it is such an overused technique that most of what we see nowadays can be described as “provocation just because” (i.e., most artists featured in vice magazine, not to be disrespectful). (most of*) beth cavener stichter’s art on the other hand is so beautiful, one can choose to fully ignore the provocative side of it and just perceive it for its aesthetic values.

* i personally have my issues with some of the sculptures, but that is a personal point of view i will choose not to discuss here.

the white hind (the bride)

no tongue can tell

images via claire oliver.