As a child going to museums I saw objects I wanted, but could never have. I always wondered how things were made and why they were considered to be special.
One day during an internship at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, I walked into the conservation department and I saw a Pablo Picasso vase that immediately caught my attention. It was a large, frumpy shape with drawings of female forms so fluid that I was instantly attracted to it. I wanted to own it.
The presence of the vase and my desire for it also brought questions to my mind. Why is it so important? Why do people care about this object? What gives it value? So I asked myself, if were to create replicas of the vase would people still have that desire for it?’
That desire drove me to work with the Nelson-Atkins staff to scan and print a plastic copy of the vase. Back in my studio, I made a mold and duplicated it multiple times with clay, but it wasn’t the same, it would never be the same. So I said to myself, since I cannot make it the same, let’s make it different.’
I decided to remove myself from the final step of finishing and firing the vase, and let others experience the excitement, happiness, and underlying desire to touch it. I gave unfired reproductions to artists in Kansas City, and asked them to interact with and respond to the object in any way they wished. So far, six artists have returned their fired and completed vases to me, each with a different approach to its surface, form and content. I wonder if seeing these altered pieces may change perceptions of the original object’ subject matter and value. For myself, I have not reached any conclusions, but have opened a new series of conversations and questions.