Casey Whittier received her BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and MFA from the University of Colorado Boulder. Her work investigates the fine line between the need to preserve and a desire to re-imagine, re-configure and re-contextualize the world around her. Utilizing a variety of forming methods and clay bodies, Whittier recreates elements from nature, unites the landscapes of her reality with the landscapes of daydreams, exploits the visceral qualities of clay, and ponders the power of shared experience. Whittier is an advocate for community engagement through the arts. Her on-going Palm Petals project has reached over 300 individuals, creating site-specific, collaborative installations that promote storytelling, community building, and reflection. Her Endangered project, which promotes peer-to-peer research related to the impact of climate change, launches in 2018. Whittier teaches ceramics and is program head for social practice at the Kansas City Art Institute and works from her home studio.
I remember vividly the first time I stomped through a perfectly formed sheet of ice, obliterating its crystalline structure. Sadness and exaltation bubbled within me simultaneously as I stood, ankle deep, in freezing water and watched the thin remnants disappear below. I had crossed a line, a mobile and intangible line.
That fine line that exists between the desire to preserve and the need to re-imagine, re-configure and re-contextualize is still a driving force in my studio practice. The daily interplay between past and present, imagination and memory, and our physical and intellectual relationship to landscape serve as reference points for my artistic practice.
My work is based in my need to better understand sense of place and our relationships to the objects, landscapes, people, and histories that surround us. I see each sculpture and installation as a way to advocate for a direct and tactile relationship with the world.
Through the use of representational objects that are culled from my environment and remade in clay, I work to create symbolic relationships between these seemingly disparate elements. When objects’ material differences and functionality are negated, these elements take on new meanings and create new possibilities for evaluation and interpretation.
An exploration of touch and intuitive making is deeply embedded in my studio practice and in the community-based projects that I do. I believe that a simple interaction between hand and material can be unifying, transformative, and impactful.
Clay serves as palimpsest; I seek the inherent variations in surface and texture, its ability to mimic, to be thick, thin, ephemeral or permanent. I work to exploit the material’s innate relationship to land, social and craft histories, time and transformation. The physical recordings that come through rolling, tearing, squishing, dipping, pushing, pinching and scratching become representations of touch, of thought, of time spent.