This week I will be profiling three contemporary artists whose work exists in that indescribable place somewhere between strange and lovely. I am generally turned off by things which I find too sweetly whimsical or superfluously weird, but when artists manage to hit that delicate balance between charming and curious, the result can be wonderfully compelling. (See part two of the series, on the painter Anne Siems).
The first artist on my list is mixed media sculptor Christina Bothwell. Taking aesthetic inspiration from vintage toys and dolls, antique medical illustrations and old machinery, her work embodies a sense of the nostalgic entwined with that ineffable emotion of wonder. With their colorful glass bodies, delicately modeled limbs and faces, hidden layers and surreal appendages, Bothwell’s imaginative figures seem like they were plucked from some forgotten fairy tale (one which I am desperate to read).
There is an enchanting quality about her work which I can’t quite articulate, but I think at least part of it stems from her use of the translucent glass to explore the co-existence of the inner and outer workings of the body. The glass allows a soft light to radiate through the figure and reveal hidden treasures and imperfections within, but its material vulnerability also mirrors the vulnerability of the figures she depicts: little girls, infants, and small animals. A little bit magical and a little bit menacing, Bothwell’s intriguing sculptures invite the viewer to imagine their own narrative for her figures and to delight in their visual curiosity.
// For more of Christina Bothwell’s work visit her website or read this 2009 interview with her in GLASS Quarterly Hot Sheet. Her works available at Heller Gallery. Images via the artist’s website and the aforementioned galleries.
Elsewhere on the Museum of Ridiculously Interesting Things: