© 2018 all rights reserved  Donna Conklin King                                              

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I enjoy experimenting with unusual materials and methods and am fascinated by the simple alchemy of transforming humble materials, often trash, into things of beauty with texture and depth. My current work borrows from the designs and negative spaces found in food containers: salad, water, soda bottles, muffin and cake lids.  Much of our food is packaged in beautifully designed plastics. We don’t think about the source, ingredients and production of our food, much of which has added sugars and preservatives that harm us.  I cast these forms in white Portland cement to resemble bleached bones or fossils, to suggest history, perhaps extinction.  Gender and the environment are also themes found in my work, often borrowing from the concept of Kintsugi. Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Philosophically, Kintsugi celebrates an objects unique history by emphasizing its imperfections instead of hiding or disguising them, often making the repaired object even more beautiful than the original.

I think a lot about food: purchasing it, preparing it, how to satisfy my hunger. I desire and crave sweets, but the body is shaped by what we eat, so I try to eat more vegetables.  Food affects clarity of thought, energy levels, sex and self-confidence. Food can be erotic (think Pomegranates), it can put you to sleep and it can give you energy. I want my work to compel you to ask yourself whether the food you eat does or doesn’t truly feed you.  

Plastic food package designs are often beautiful: lattice-work for salad, smooth surfaces and beaded edges for cakes, undulating ribbing or bullseye relief on cake and muffin lids. Much of our food is packaged so beautifully that we may not think about the source, ingredients or production of it. Many foods are processed with addictive and unhealthy ingredients such as sugar, flour and preservatives, while the manufacturing of plastic packaging requires excessive waste water during production and pollutes the environment when discarded.  

I am fascinated with the designs of food containers and their potential to symbolically speak about the body as well as the environment and its influence on our food sources: the decline of the honeybee populations and polluted water are examples. I pour concrete into the containers, sometimes carving the resulting forms or adding elements, or breaking them and put them back together in a Kintsugi* way. I like to evoke a certain presence of the human body or body part, its emptiness or entrapment.

 I feel compelled to put holes into the work, as though I am giving it a mouth to speak, a door to invite you in, or a portal for passing through. Perhaps I am calling attention to the hole in each of us, the place where addiction and consumption take over and we seek to fill up the emptiness with food, alcohol or sex. Other times I let the material and shape of the container influence the resulting form, sometimes manipulating, bending or cutting the container before casting it, to emphasize or obliterate the original shape and memory of its contents. I prefer using white Portland cement because it resembles bleached bones and fossils, alluding to history and archaeology.  

Working on the wall is important to me, where the viewer is confronted directly at eye level, and there is a parallel between the body and the work.  I create floor work as well: the confrontation with it is physically like stumbling onto an archeological dig, a drain or a grave. You are forced to look down to avoid colliding with the sculpture in front of you. It demands that you contemplate the empty space between you and the sculpture, the space between you, and your body, its consumption or fulfillment and the impact on our environment.

 

 

*Translated to “golden joinery,” Kintsugi is the centuries-old Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with a special lacquer dusted with powdered gold. Philosophically, Kintsugi celebrates an objects unique history by emphasizing its imperfections instead of hiding or disguising them, often making the repaired object even more beautiful than the original.

 

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