Ceramics by Constance McBride
“Everyone wants to have an illusion of themselves, that they’re a bit attractive, but the older I get it seems more important to be absolutely honest and direct.” – Chantal Joffe
When I was a kid I discovered Seventeen Magazine and it really messed me up. I recently googled it and was shocked to see that it debuted in 1944. I always had the impression that it began in the ‘60s or ‘70s when I was a subscriber. From Wikipedia: “It began as a publication geared toward inspiring teen girls to become model workers and citizens. Soon after its debut, Seventeen took a more fashion and romance oriented approach in presenting its material while promoting self-confidence in young women.” I have to disagree with this idea of promoting self-confidence in young women.
What I think it really did was cause many young women to angst about their faces and their bodies; something I did for a very long time. That and having a beautiful mother led me to focus on the topic of aging in a youth obsessed culture when I began my art practice.
I use clay (a medium historically excluded from the fine art world) to investigate the aging process, a notion rejected by many and specifically linked to failure as it relates to women. Through unidealized female faces and figures, I explore themes of identity and memory; referencing my own body to claim agency as the subject and owner of my work. I hand build my pieces with stoneware and paper clay. Colorants including under glazes, stains, oxides and graphite are applied to a figure’s surface to further magnify a countenance of grace and wisdom seen in senescent women.
I create my work through a lens of empowerment to address contemporary issues faced by women.
[click on any image to enlarge it]
- Lonely Girl Room 315
Ceramic, Under Glaze, Iron Oxide, Pastel, Wire
14″ x 10″ x 6″
(photographer – Mike Healy)
- Lonely Girl Room 315-detail
- Lonely Girl Room 122-back view
(photographer – Sean Deckert)
- Truth from Within
Ceramic, Copper Carbonate, Wax, Wire
20″ x 36″ x 14″
(Photo courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum)
- Truth from Within – front view
(Photographer – Amy Weaver)
- Between Two Worlds
Ceramic, Copper Carbonate, Wax, Wire, Desert Debris
21″ x 57″ x 9″ (figure)
(Photographer – Joshua Steffy)
- Between Two Worlds 3
10″ x 13″ x 11″
(Photographer- Chris Loomis)
- Whisperers – back view
- Time’s Relentless Melt
8″ x 18″ x 7″
(Photograper – Aaron
A native of Philadelphia, PA, Constance McBride’s work explores themes of identity and memory with an emphasis being placed on issues most experienced by women. When residing in the Southwest, observations of the desert made a transformative impact on her practice. Her work has been supported by grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Phoenix Art Museum’s Contemporary Forum, Philadelphia Sculptors and the Arts Aid PHL program. Museum exhibitions include Phoenix Art Museum and Udinotti Museum of Figurative Art in AZ, Las Cruces Museum of Art in NM, San Angelo Museum of Art in TX, The State Museum of Pennsylvania and Biggs Museum of American Art in DE. Notable gallery exhibitions include Craft Forms at Wayne Art Center and The Clay Studio National in PA, America’s ClayFest International at Blue Line Arts in CA and Beyond the Brickyard at Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in MT. McBride’s work has received attention from Yahoo News, Visual Art Source, Philly Artblog, Philadelphia Stories, Schuylkill Valley Journal and the international platform Ceramics Now. Now living and working in Chester Springs, PA, she is actively involved with art communities in the Philadelphia metro area. McBride earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Arcadia University, Glenside, PA. See more of her work here.