LAURA CANNAMELA
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Waterfalls and Rock Studies
I live and work near a gorge carved from glacial flow. It is a dramatic landscape eroded by waterfalls and sculpted by a meandering creek that eventually empties out into the Hudson River. Everyday I observe the interconnectivity of nature: the ebb and flow of water against the rock formations, the striations of sediment revealed in the topographical structure. For me, the rocks indicate the relationship of past actions to the present while acting as witnesses to the continuity and vastness of geological time. I return to my studio to make sculptures that reflect the small details I observe in nature which parallel the massive contours of the landscape around them.

I use a variety of ceramic techniques to create the clay sculptures, and most recently incorporate neriage, layering and wedging together different clay bodies to suggest striations in rock or the effects of the movement of water. I fire these sculptures in atmospheric kilns where the flame, smoke, and ash act as collaborators in the finished work, revealing colors and emphasizing their textures and forms. Wood firing has become very important to the finishing of my sculpture, and I enjoy the community aspect of joining with a group of people working together collectively to keep the fire burning for multiple days and nights. While collaborating with the fire in the finishing of my work, I find yet another way to observe the interconnectivity of nature, as flame and ash correspond and converse with these sculptural forms inspired by earth and water.

My sculptures are relatively small and they are designed to be looked at very closely, much like the details I observe in nature that parallel the topography of the landscape around them. They reflect both representation and abstraction through their highly textured surfaces and their expressionistic, animated forms. I have discovered many similarities between the formation of landscape created through natural forces and sculpture created through carving, modeling, and layering. In both, there is a fusion of process and form that is crucial to the image perceived. In both the positive space and the negative space are connected through the process of formation. In both the form created suggests a relationship of past actions to the present.

Throughout my observations of creek waters as they surge, meander, ripple, and drift, the words of Heraclitus are always with me. You never step into the same river twice, for it's not the same river and you are not the same person.


Genji series
These works are informed by Japanese illustrations for Genji Monogatari (the Tale of Genji). I am interested in their variety of textures, colors, and patterns, and how these design elements are interwoven to create a balance between representational space and abstract form. My work focuses on this balance by leaving out the figures which are so central to the narrative works, reinterpreting these spaces without them.

Architectural forms and objects left behind allude to recent human presence; the absence of figures allows the emptiness of the implied spaces to be perceived. While empty of figures, these spaces are actually full: filled with texture and pattern, filled with layers of paper, filled with light and shadow. The interplay of empty implied space and full actual space blurs the distinction between image and object, between simulation and reality.