Carmen Castorena, Advanced Ceramics
Slip-dipped clothing and found object assemblage
Clothing and toys are some of the first “facts” that help identify age, cultural background, or sex. We often find ourselves drawn to a specific object such as a favorite stuffed animal or dress that becomes a part of who we are. For this reason, objects can become relics, holding memories of stories with sentimental value. In my installations, I use these objects to create a space that is comfortable and familiar to viewers, such as a girl’s bedroom. The gallery is transformed into a private space for exploration and experimentation. The toys, furniture, and clothing seen here are given metaphorical values that mirror the girl’s experiences. These inviting and relatable forms channel the theme of self-construction through the assembling of foreign parts, creating a new self. In the piece Cradle And All, stuffed animals are deconstructed and randomly reassembled. These hybrid creatures are then dipped in liquid clay, fired and glazed. This process is ceremonial and symbolic due to the burning of the interior and the newly born hard, yet fragile, body. The resulting forms are scattered across the floor, evoking a sense of frustration. While toys and furniture are common across different cultures, I also use symbols that play a very important role in Mexican culture.
No Me Llamo Guadalupe narrates my exploration of identity as an undocumented woman living in two worlds, navigating conflicting expectations of each. After years of pain and confusion caused by mixed conceptions of the self, I am on my journey to finding an equal balance between my two cultures. The conceptualization and construction of this work has become not only a creative process, but also a healing process.