Berserk, Bizarre, Boundary

Source: Scher, Robin. “Americana gone a bit weird”: Valerie Hegarty on her new ceramic still lifes. 2016. Web. 10 Nov. 2016

For those who don’t know who Valerie Hegarty is, you could say that she compromises boundaries with the best of them. In the exhibition, Damage is Love ,Hegarty’s interest in transforming nature and mimicking decay allow for the particular boundaries of traditional art to be blurred and forgotten. This same notion also can be seen in her most recent exhibition, American Berserk.

American Berserk is quite different from her previous works. Hegarty usually works with papier-mâché, allowing her to create intensely, detailed depictions of transformational displays of organic nature. In Berserk, however, she uses glazed ceramics. This use of ceramics totally changes her entire aesthetic, and not in good way. The execution seems so unrefined that it’s hard to believe that Hegarty produced them at all. The individual pieces look poorly crafted and juvenile in most aspects. Hegarty had begun to take ceramics classes before she began work on the exhibition. Perhaps she should have taken a few more.

Despite her lack of execution in the exhibition, Hegarty has still managed to push the boundaries of traditional art in terms of medium and subject matter. When asked about her piece, George Washington on a Horse as Topiary, she states,

“Those were slightly inspired by my dad. I had explained to him what conceptual and installation art were and, in response, he made this really crude smiley face in a bush. I have a picture of him standing next to it with a chainsaw, and I remember thinking, “That’s brilliant, I’m going to steal that.” I think it’s a funny sculptural medium—to carve something out of a bush seems kind of silly. As for George Washington, I was thinking about how some of my previous work talked about nationalism and manifest destiny being embedded in landscape painting. It’s a complete melding, like Mount Rushmore.”(Scher)

Most ceramics professionals could barely imagine making anything outside the realm of planters and pots let alone trying to accurately recreate a detailed Topiary of a man on a horse. Once again, Hegarty is taking traditional practice and transforming the outcome into something more.

– Joseph Warren

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