by Serena Caffrey
2 weeks ago
My grandmother had an amazing collection of the most bizarre jewelry. She was a heavy smoker, four boys, raised all four boys. Her husband died when my dad was eleven I just saw her as an incredibly powerful woman, total alcoholic. How do you get through that? One of the few pieces I got after she passed was a jewelry box with a rose on the top and the song it played was Smoke Gets in Your Eyes. A lot of these things are going back to her unconsciously as well. There’s this head piece that was part of a pendant that she had with four heads on it representing her four sons. So it’s nice to reference my own jewelry but also reference my grandmother’s jewelry. When you think about what women are able to pass down - it’s like jewelry is usually the first thing. It’s not land; it’s not a business. It’s jewelry. Using jewelry as a starting point in that sense is important to… And usually jewelry is given to you by a man, by a man you love. It’s nice when that becomes the subject of sculptures. And some of the jewelry I reference is just trinkets, or little pieces of cheap things I’ve just collected over times like souvenirs. That appropriation - taking something and not altering it but just enlarging it and casting it in a different material both physically and contextually casting it. There was one piece, the pendants that I did for my OCHI show, where I just took this landscape of a waterfall that was a very small enamel pendant. Have you seen those painted enamel pendants? It’s really cheap jewelry [where] the metals been raised, and they do these enamel pours and they sand it down, and it’s perfect. I did two of those landscape pendants and made them into very large sculptures, which was really wonderful to take this little thing that’s a landscape but turn it back into a landscape painting and then use that rock surface and resign to make it this whole other thing, but be really true to the design.
That view is such a coveted view in pornography it’s like that’s the shot , the money shot. It is because it’s such a hidden part of the body. The phallus is physically out there. We still live in an environment where it’s not okay to run around naked . Perhaps we also live in a really strange time where female empowerment does include allowing yourself to where really slippy clothes where in the past that would have been seen as a real no-no for a feminist to wear something like that because you’re subjugating yourself to this feminine mystique, this idea that you are shaping your body to the wants and needs of a man. It’s such a complicated thing to take such an explicit and prized part of the female body and centralizing it, making it the only part of the sculpture, the focal point. But you know at the same time when you start to treat it as a symbol it has all of these other connotations. The vagina becomes like a barrier, like an astral plane or something, the metaphor for the universe. If you think about birth you’re birthing a person through the world . It’s a portal, it’s a gateway. Thinking of the vagina in this way and presenting it not as a sexual object but as a portal is really more exciting to me. And it loses because it’s so frontal because it’s centralized, because it’s in your face it loses that – you just have to contend with it.
The C.A.D. visited Erin in her studio Saturday, October 20, 2018. Read more in The Contemporary Art Digest: Erin Morrison.