Magazine article Ceramics Art & Perception

Susannah Zucker: Avian

Magazine article Ceramics Art & Perception

Susannah Zucker: Avian

Article excerpt

Susannah Zucker's life-size ceramic representations of human figures with connections to the sky in her Avian series, exhibited at Bill Lowe Gallery in Atlanta, Georgia, US communicate a longing for transcendence combined with a sense of vulnerability - a need for flight perhaps in more than one sense of the word. Zucker, who earned her BFA from California College of Arts and Crafts in 1994 and her MFA from the University of Georgia in 2007, produces ceramic figures that fully enter the 'uncanny valley' more often associated with robots (the figures contain glass eyes and wear singularly realistic facial expressions) but the meticulously coloured skin textures are, on close inspection, disturbingly uneven, and the overall impact of this not-quite-embodiment is discomfiture.

The huddled naked figure of Avian is sprouting or being penetrated by (actual) feathers, but not in any form suited for wings. She gazes beseechingly or fearfully at the viewer, and represents one pole of the dialectic between freedom and fragility that this Asheville-based artist proposes. She seems in some ways the polar opposite of the exposed figure in Crouch, except that this woman is not exactly poised for takeoff. She wears steel prosthetic legs and what sprouts from her armless shoulders are not feathered wings but elk antlers.

Wearing an antique leather aviator's helmet, the standing figure of Amelia would seem a confident avatar of aviation (even her nakedness is covered with a photo-transferred map). But the title and the visual imagery itself constitute an allusion to a classic case of successful exploration ending in traumatic disaster.

Zucker has indicated that many of her works represent junctures of eroticism and trauma, and Clutch is a particularly unnerving case in point, in which a cross-legged woman with peculiarly upswept hair lovingly touches a cache of bird skulls cradled in her lap. …

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