In Latin, memento mori interprets roughly to “bear in mind you’ll die” and has been used as a visible trope employed in artwork for hundreds of years, usually within the type of a cranium. In Seventeenth-century Vanitas still-life work, different symbols like hour glasses, clocks, extinguished candles, fruit, flowers, or sport animals have been added as a relentless reminder of the fleetingness of life. For artist Sarah Conti, the character of existence is as a lot a topic because the avians she sculpts. Present in delicate stability inside their more and more imperiled habitats, she says, “[Birds] can’t evolve on the charge we’re altering the world.”
Surrounded by relations who have been avid birders, the artist traces her curiosity within the feathered creatures to childhood. The extra she discovered, the extra she admired how birds have captured humankind’s creativeness. In a while whereas enrolled on the College of Montana in Missoula, the onset of the pandemic made the college’s studio areas inaccessible, prompting her to be outside extra usually. She says, “On a regular basis I used to spend within the studio transitioned into time spent in wetlands and woods searching for birds. I had the time and entry to see many new species, and it ignited a lot curiosity and surprise in me.”
In 2020, Conti started to consider extra in regards to the human impression on the atmosphere, in addition to political and social points, discovering that the ubiquity of birds—and our limitless fascination with the avian world—introduced an apt technique to categorical vital issues. She hones in on the connection between magnificence and discomfort, highlighting dualities of presence and absence or the seen and unseen. For instance, “Misplaced Historical past of Girls” illustrates how ornithological research has typically centered on males, paralleling the best way girls have been omitted from human report.
Conti shapes distinctive birds from clay, usually making dozens at a time for large-scale installations. For “(Im)Migration,” she made 75 items in about 75 days, which have been then given a floor remedy earlier than being fired within the kiln. Whereas every particular person part can stand by itself as an unbiased work, Conti says, “I’m very concerned about making set up sculpture as a technique to inform a bigger story, to speak in regards to the massiveness of those points, and to make the viewer really feel enveloped within the work. I need viewers to consider the way it pertains to their presence and their function in these points.”
Audubon lately commissioned a chunk that will likely be featured quickly within the quarterly’s ongoing collection referred to as The Aviary, and subsequent March, Conti will likely be part of Radius Gallery’s ninth Annual Ceramics Invitational. Discover extra on her website and Instagram.
Do tales and artists like this matter to you? Change into a Colossal Member immediately and help unbiased arts publishing for as little as $5 per thirty days. You will join with a neighborhood of like-minded readers who’re obsessed with up to date artwork, learn articles and newsletters ad-free, maintain our interview collection, get reductions and early entry to our limited-edition print releases, and rather more. Join now!