Adelaide Paul: anatomies, animali, anime

Apr 7th - May 14th, 2006

This is the farewell exhibition for Adelaide Paul who has been a Resident Artist at The Clay Studio for the last five years. Paul received her BFA from the New York State College of Ceramics in 1993 and her MFA from Louisiana State University in 1996. She is a passionate animal rights activist and spent nine years between high school and her college education working with horses. Her five dogs and two cats, all rescued from various shelters, are a huge part of her life. Her relationships with and love for animals have profoundly impacted her work as is evidenced in the title for her show, which translates from Italian to anatomies, animals, souls.

Paul's sculptures explore as she puts it, "…the alternately cloyingly sentimental and brutally callous relationship between humans and animals, both domesticated and wild." These sensitively articulated and beautifully finished figures address this dynamic head on yet to do so in a gentle way. Humankind's relationship to animals, particularly the dog (man's best friend) has played a vital role in conveying a variety of ideas as evidenced by its representation throughout the entire history of both the visual and language arts. The figures, in combination with mixed media and found objects, continue to build on this tradition, commenting on current, relevant and oftentimes difficult subjects. Man's inhumanity to man (and animals), gender issues, our disposable and short attention spanned society, breeding and selective breeding, gluttony and our need to create hierarchies within our world are fully explored within her work. These pointed messages are delivered in a masterful way, slowly being absorbed by the viewer as he/she experiences each piece. They have as critic Glenn Brown states, "a cool but non-threatening demeanor that, rather than bullying the viewer into a defensive state, implies respect for his or her capacity to review and even revise inveterate attitudes and behavior."

"In its extremes, American culture posits an alternately cloying sentimental and brutally callous relationship between human and both domesticated and wild animals. Animals are anthromorphized in film, fiction and popular culture. They (and their requisite accessories) are hot commodities; like all commodities, they are also inexorably disposable."

"Recently I have been studying (and in the past year, also teaching) the anatomy of animals. One cannot contemplate the intricacies of consumption without an acknowlegement of the carnality of desire, be it a desire for material goods or a wide range of sensual slakings. On a pragmatic level, rendering an animal (of any species, including our own) accurately on the outside is vastly facilitated by understanding the organization of the parts on the inside. But the inside of the body is transgressive; private, frightening, even revolting to many of us. Meat cuts are trimmed and often dyed like an expensive haircut, hermetically sealed and given names such as 'bacon' and 'london broil;' the flesh becomes 'beef' and 'pork,' because 'muscle of cow' or 'muscle of pig' would likely be off-putting. The epiglottis of the horse seems more vaginal than the vagina, (perhaps giving an unintended additional layer of meaning implicit in the 1970's pornography flick Deep Throat). The muscles of a fresh (unembalmed ) horse leg are a surreal blue-purple; glistening under an irridescent, translucent faschial sheet. It is strangly beautiful. Muscle is meat and, on a great many levels, so are we."

"All organisms are dependent upon other species in one way or another; consumption in every sense of the word is integral to life in western (and, increasingly, non-weastern) culture. I seek to pose questions to the viewer regarding these consumer/ consumed/ consummated relationships by juxtaposing found and fabricated objects evoking multiple possibilites as to just whom is consumed."
— Adeladie Paul