Welcome to the Viewing & Resource Room for Liz McCarthy: Unheeding
January 9 – February 20, 2021
Goldfinch is pleased to present “Unheeding,” an exhibition of new ceramic sculptures by Liz McCarthy in Gallery II.
(click images for larger views)
Reminiscent of dancers and experimental movement, McCarthy’s humanoid forms examine questions of wholes and parts, as they relate to the mind and body. Through the medium of clay, where chance is inextricably linked to process, McCarthy draws on materiality, decorative arts, and performance to expose a false dichotomy between heads and bodies, in which logic of the head (or mind) is historically privileged.
For this exhibition, McCarthy enacts a sort of “decapitation”—literally and metaphorically—presenting a series of ceramic heads, with exaggerated features, apart from their corresponding bodies. The remaining figures, bearing holes and sinewy limbs, remain highly animated, as though frozen in wild gestures. In a culture dominated by “talking heads,” McCarthy embraces unfinished thoughts and a degree of unconsciousness, her sculptures nudging us toward an awareness of our own thinking bodies, where understanding of both environment and self is deeply sensual and embodied.
Liz McCarthy is a Chicago-based artist combining ceramics with other mediums to interrogate material and cultural modes of collective performativity. She received her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago in Studio Art and her BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville in Photography. Her mix of performance, sculpture, and installation have been exhibited at Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago; Ghebaly Gallery in Los Angeles; ExGirlfriend in Berlin; and numerous Chicago galleries. Currently she acts as Founding Director of the GnarWare Workshop ceramics school, and is Faculty in Ceramics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Installation view photos by Ryan Edmund.
If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—
Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
—William Carlos Williams
Whether assembled together or left as isolated pieces, the works are visceral explorations of how bodies, like objects in an auction house, can be deconstructed, measured as instruments, valued for certain parts, or neglected as something whole. As modular pieces, in which limbs, torsos, and heads can be disassembled and switched with others, the sculptures seem to exist in a delicate balance between discrete objects and something else—something that feels living and a little bit messy, as living often is. — Elizabeth Lalley, review of Liz McCarthy sculpture exhibition at 062 Gallery
Related Past performance videos:
Read More About Liz McCarthy: