MISSION STATEMENT, BIOGRAPHY , PATH 9-21-2011
Ceramic Body Castings
THE EMPOWERMENT SERIES
I began thinking about body castings many years ago. At that time I was thinking of ways to incorporate something I found beautiful, the female form, with my chosen art medium of ceramics or “clay”. Additionally, I truly wanted to say something new with this body of work–something important.
I have worked in clay for many years now, and have traveled down many of the paths of this field searching for better and better ways to say what is important to me. During that time this project of castings and creating art from these castings has been a direction and goal. But for all that effort there was an uncertainty or lack of direction and clear purpose. The true clarity of the project eluded me until about a year ago.
Back when I began to study aspects of what I wanted to accomplish, I took life sculpture classes and did studies of bodies in clay, made sculptures of bodies and lots of different things. I began casting different objects in plaster and making art and products from these castings. I learned to cast bodies in plaster and then to make ceramic sculpture from these castings. With every casting I would improve and try new avenues, searching for the answers to the question that always haunts me. “Is this what I want to say and am I saying it correctly”.
Well I don’t have all the answers to these questions but I have found in the past year the clarity and insight that the path I am on is correct and right for me.
What the path turned out to be, even if unexpected, is many-fold. First is the art. The techniques I have been working on have matured into a cohesive whole and the final results are “right” and have that feeling of saying things correctly. Additionally another aspect of the work I am seeking is truthfulness of the human form. This truthfulness it is hoped will or may move some people to think differently about the physical body–theirs and others
What has really led to the clear vision about the work has been the women, their experience, their growth, and the process. Some of the models have talked about the feelings the casting process has brought up for them and how it made them more aware of different parts of their bodies. Others have enjoyed sensual experiences and inner connections being inside the mold during the casting process. Most experience the playfulness and fun of the experience–feeling younger and playing in the mud–or doing a daring thing. And for some it’s the experience of a boundary and breakthrough, or even the physical challenge of the casting process. The final experience for the models is seeing the castings and then the finished artwork revealing their true bodies.
The process of body casting
The casting process I am currently employing was developed over the past several years. I begin by preparing the casting station. This involves pre-cutting a supply of plaster fabric cloth into several lengths, staging the plaster supplies and sprayer, and having all the additional elements in place for a smooth flow of work. Next I fit the casting station to the model by readjusting the hand holds or other arm supports.
The casting process for a full torso cast takes around twenty to thirty minutes and because of this I take some time to prepare the model for the cast. We do some sitting and resting followed by some quiet time.
Next I wrap the lower legs and feet with fabric to aid in keeping plaster off these areas for cleanup. Then the model is positioned onto the workstation and the casting process is begun.
The first step is to apply a plaster release product to the skin. I have found that Coconut oil works the best and most people like it.
Having applied oil to all areas I then use air pressure to apply a layer of fresh Plaster of Paris onto a portion of the body. This is then rapidly followed by the application of fabric over the wet plaster. I repeat these two steps several times as I work my way up the body until the cast is complete. This combination of plaster followed by fabric will produce the most accurate copy of the model possible.
When the cast is complete or the final amount of plaster is applied, a short period of time is allowed to pass for the plaster to set. Once the set has occurred the mold is removed from the model and the model is allowed to sit and relax for a moment prior to the body cleaning. Warm water and sponges are then used to remove any remaining plaster bits left over from the casting.
It should be noted that even though the process described above is simple it does require enough stamina to stand for thirty minutes wile breathing shallowly and remaining calm. Being fit and comfortable with yourself and your body will allow for a good casting experience.
Additional thoughts and answers.
What is my promise:
To always do this work in a fun and respectful way. To have each experience be a growing productive helpful learning endeavor. To learn and grow from each casting and work of art created. To try to change how people think and feel about the human body. To have purpose and make a difference.
What do I get from doing all this:
Mainly I get a rough model of their form which I can with time and effort use to create art. I receive support from my community that I am doing the right work. I receive the benefit of being honored and trusted by the models with an opportunity to be larger than myself. There is also the growth of the model, even if just a little bit, which helps to validate me and my work. And maybe I also become part of a larger awareness of universal growth and a movement forward in thinking when the final work is viewed.
What do the women receive or why should you do this?
First, I don’t promise an experience which will be fun or moving or life altering. Nor do I make promises that I will use the castings or ever create a work of art from the cast form. Nor do I make promises that I will make a copy for the model. One exception is a yoni casting. Creating ceramic castings from full body molds is very time consuming and expensive, and I am but one person with many art forms in which I work. However with that said, it is my desire to create something from all of the castings. Time will tell how many really can be made.
BUT what do the women receive! The best I can say is that they receive “their own individual experience”
Thank you Mark Anderson