All images and content ©2019 by Kourtney Stone

Memory Series I, 2017-2018

Statement:

    Memory is a paradoxical force. In our lives it is both undeniably powerful in its influence and truly fragile in its mutability. It reconfigures time and space. Through the process of remembering, the past is relived in the present, often as we think to the future. Much of how people identify themselves, how they relate to others, and how they make decisions about the future is based on recollections of the past. Yet in considering the structures of memories, we see how time and perception alter them. The reconstruction of a memory in the brain is subjective and can be altered by time and the remembered emotions, impressions, and motives. 

    I am curious about the nature of autobiographical memory and how it influences our relationships and identities. My ceramic figure sculptures visualize my perceptions of personal memories, specifically those that have impacted my relationships with family members. The gesture and expressions of these figures derive from the emotions I associate with a specific recollection and individual. As a visual metaphor for how time affects the perception of a memory and can change the information associated with it, the surfaces of the figures are built up with underglaze and glaze, then sanded back through to reveal the layers, similar to the weathered layers of paint on an old door. 

    I use material and compositions that speak to the nature of memory. As a material, clay transforms from a highly tactile material into a permanent object. It immediately records the touch of the maker, which is then translated through the firing process into an enduring index of the maker’s actions. The translucency of glass elements cause their appearance to change depending on the environment. The thickness and undulations of the glass forms distort whatever is seen through them. This speaks to how perceptions and memory change with time and context. Colors and compositions for my sculptures are pulled from specific autobiographical memories and paired with references from family photographs or historical allusions that speak to how people related to each other at a specific point in time. For example, color schemes for a sculpture may be derived from fashion during the American Civil War, which speaks to a culturally pivotal time when families were deeply divided. A hairstyle might be based on photos of my mother as a child, which is a way for me to connect my life story to hers.

    My sculptures are an examination of the effects of memory, perception, and the passage of time on my familial relationships. The references I make to the past contrast with expressions and gestures that speak to the present. In this tension, there is an attempt to reconcile the current state of a relationship with previous experiences. 

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