“Not all art needs to be so serious or grim, especially in today’s world.” – Allison Schwartz
‘Cute and cuddly’ is anathema in the world of ‘serious’ fine art. But these sculptural forms from Allison Schwartz dare to introduce the motif of domestic cats into the mix by embracing any perceived lack of gravitas with bright and bold colors and textures that cry out for you to run your fingers through them. Yet there is also something a little unorthodox in these feline characters, as Schwartz explains:
“Sea is for Catfish is an installation of fictional creatures that are half cat and half fish, which is based off my love of felines and all aquatic creatures. The contradiction and uncanny nature of their ‘existence’ expresses the unnatural and non-native feeling of pure happiness in my life.”
“Each sculptural catfish is a combination of ceramic, wood, expanding foam, faux fur and acrylic paint. I love creating texture and strive to reveal the unexpected – or in this case – very familiar textures. These catfish are covered with an extremely soft faux fur, enticing its viewer to interact.”
So Schwartz is more concerned with the visceral experience than any overriding intellectual thesis for her work, so that one might argue that it has a more important connection to expressionist traditions. The synthesis of two distinct species that are historically seen as being at odds communicates a subversive unease that reflects the artist’s own emotional struggles: “My work comes from a desire to connect with others without using words. Recently, I’ve been overcome with a sense of euphoria whereas I had been in a constant haze of anxiety. My hope is that the viewer walks away experiencing the same strange happiness I find daily.”
Schwartz is a recent graduate of Northern Kentucky University and just had work in the Main Gallery on that campus.
Hometown: Lancaster, Kentucky
Education: BFA, Spatial Arts, Northern Kentucky University School of the Arts, December 2017
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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.