Sirens on a Shelf - Works by Claudia Fitch
This series of ceramic figurines are composed of cast parts that are cartoon-like representation of my own female form. Each is a self-portrait/protagonist that is also visualized as furniture, interior decor, commodity, and/or architectural embellishment, and staged to test different models of femininity, brutal and humorous.
Manipulated to display, embody or wear some kind of architectural element (such as typeface forms, Home Depot wood finials or steel ) these figurines of cast parts playfully suggest porcelain dolls, American classical revival or deco architecture (still present in the vernacular landscape) and ancient terra cotta figurines.
The shelf installations playfully mimic the ubiquitous, mass-produced, trademark icon. The icons might also be seen as an unlikely archetypes. For example Sword to Mind enacts a Buddhist concept, and Red Rain integrates the gestures of the Breck Shampoo Girl (a prevalent childhood icon) with the ancient concept of rain/fertility, envisioning 1960’s model of femininity within a more humorously existential light.
My work in drawing/sculpture playfully re-invents icons from the American vernacular, seeking to expose the idiosyncratic connection between the cultural and the personal. I play with images from advertising, architecture and décor. Fascinated by their seduction and banal conventionality, I re-draw selected tropes through unlikely materials/ gestures, bending convention to reveal a more visceral subconscious reality.
Claudia Fitch has been making sculpture for over a decade. Born in 1952 in Palo Alto, CA, Fitch received her BFA in Painting in 1975 from The University of Washington, Seattle and her MFA in 1979 from the Tyler School of Art, Philadelphia. She has also studied ceramics extensively at the University of Washington. In the mid-1980s her sculpture used the ages old theme of gardens and topiary. She gave this subject an unorthodox appearance by using steel and plastic foliage as surface and support.
Commissions, Awards and Honors
Claudia Fitch's work in ceramics began during a three-month residency fellowship at the European Ceramic Work Center in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 1997.
Through this program, artists of all visual disciplines were invited to participate with the hope of experimenting and expanding the traditional ceramic process. Only 40% of the participating artists were Dutch, allowing the majority of the artists to be introduced to the Dutch community of artists. For Fitch, this setting stimulated the development of her own ceramic processes and visual ideas.
The artist is heavily interested in the architectural tile work of the Netherlands as well as in the complicated relationship between European and Asian cultures during colonial times. Holland's long history of patterned decoration and its legacy of refined aesthetics particularly inspired Fitch.
In addition to a European Ceramics Work Centre Fellowship, in Hertogenbosch, Netherlands in 1997, the artist also received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant. Other awards and honors include: The MacDowell Colony Fellowship (1996,1987), a WESTAF/NEA Regional Fellowship in Visual Arts (1995), an Artist Trust Fellowship in Visual Arts, Seattle (1992), Seattle Artists Award, Seattle Arts Commission (1990) and an NEA Fellowship in the Visual Arts (1984).
Fitch has exhibited at the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, as well as a number of universities and galleries across the country. Her work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions both locally and nationally. In 1986 Fitch collaborated with Lenora Champagne on two projects at P.S. 122 and Franklin Furnace in New York.
Her work is included in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Seattle Arts Commission, Zymogenetics and Microsoft Corporation.