Assembled sculpture and installation contain both the content of the material itself and the ways in which the material is handled and contextualized. ceramic, glaze, and found objects manifest an allegorical formalism that utilizes coded languages of institutional spaces, traditions of queer-coding, and charged word-play. the ceramic vessel forms reference the ancient greek pottery form of the hydria, a three-handled water jug, but are constructed with holes or bottomless forms, breaking the viewers expectations for how a vessel should function. the three-handled form is a literal interpretation of a non-binary way of approaching an object. the hydria functions as both a stand-in for the body—or ideas of bodies and, as a form of classical antiquity, is a marker of institutional influence. the hydria, glazed orange and turned on its head, takes the form of a traffic cone. safety orange, hardware store blue, and fluorescent green are institutional symbols of caution and, in my work, function as gesture and a designation of space—both literally and formally. materials found in hardware stores, academia, and corporate buildings are strapped or attached to the ceramic pots, emphasizing their precarity. stressed objects enact force onto others—and give way to it.
The work visually expands upon conversations about institutional critique and its contradictions, specifically, who may dictate the boundaries between institutions and bodies and who may enact force or receive it. one’s participation in critique, however, indicates a participation in the problematic institution and by extension, a desire to critique may also be considered a desire to participate in that system.
The precarity of the installations urge the viewer to be aware of their own body and of the space they take up—implicating both the viewer and the artist in the work.
Sam Mack is an artist originally from Saint Louis, Missouri and is currently based in Fayetteville, Arkansas. They received their Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Art with an emphasis in Ceramics from the University of Missouri and will receive their Master of Fine Art in Studio Art in May 2019 from the University of Arkansas. Their work is formulated through installation, ceramic objects and is centered around the allegorical potential of formally arranged material and objects. Mack has shown nationally and internationally at the JEAE International Arts Center in Jingdezhen, China, and at the Aichi Ceramics Museum in Seto City, Japan, as well as the Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.