Reminiscent of dancers and experimental movement, McCarthy’s humanoid forms examine questions of wholes and parts, as they relate to the mind and body. Through the medium of clay, where chance is inextricably linked to process, McCarthy draws on materiality, decorative arts, and performance to expose a false dichotomy between heads and bodies, in which logic of the head (or mind) is historically privileged.
For this exhibition, McCarthy enacts a sort of “decapitation”—literally and metaphorically—presenting a series of ceramic heads, with exaggerated features, apart from their corresponding bodies. The remaining figures, bearing holes and sinewy limbs, remain highly animated, as though frozen in wild gestures. In a culture dominated by “talking heads,” McCarthy embraces unfinished thoughts and a degree of unconsciousness, her sculptures nudging us toward an awareness of our own thinking bodies, where understanding of both environment and self is deeply sensual and embodied.
Liz McCarthy is a Chicago-based artist combining ceramics with other mediums to interrogate material and cultural modes of collective performativity. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Studio Art and her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in Photography. Her mix of performance, sculpture, and installation have been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles; ExGirlfriend in Berlin; and numerous Chicago galleries. Currently she acts as Founding Director of the GnarWare Workshop ceramics school, and is Faculty in Ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Installation view photos by Ryan Edmund.