LINDA SORMIN

SCULPTURES & INSTALLATIONS

LINDA SORMIN

(b. 1971, Bangkok, Thailand, lives and works in New York, NY)

Born in Thailand and raised in Canada, Linda Sormin’s ceramics-based installations explore uncertainty, risk, survival, and precarious and fragile structures. She is attentive to how humans seek stability in the midst of chaos and transition, how transformation occurs during times of upheaval, and how we hold onto the familiar through experiences of migration and change.

Sormin’s work has been exhibited nationally and internationally, including Patricia Sweetow Gallery (San Francisco, CA), CLAY Museum of Ceramic Art (Middelfart, Denmark), Jogja National Museum, (Yogyakarta, Indonesia), Everson Museum, (Syracuse, NY), Bluecoat Art Gallery, (Liverpool, UK), National Gallery of Indonesia (Jakarta, Indonesia), McClure Gallery, (Montréal, Canada), Gardiner Museum (Toronto, CA), the West Norway Museum of Decorative Art, (Bergen, Norway), Denver Art Museum, (Denver, USA), and gl Holtegaard (Holte, Denmark). In 1993, Sormin completed her BA in English Literature at Andrews University followed by a ceramics diploma from Sheridan College in 2001. In 2003, she earned her MFA from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University.  Sormin is Associate Professor of Studio Art at New York University.

ON NURTURE: RESHAPING RAGE (WHEN REVENGE MAKES PERFECT SENSE)

The intricate hand-work in my visual art process embodies traditional Buddhist practices in Thailand & Laos.  Living in both countries during my 20’s, I joined groups of women who created floral floats & wreaths in preparation for rituals and festivals.  Mounds of fragrant material – orchids, marigolds, jasmine blossoms, bamboo leaves, string and gold leaf – surrounded us as we pieced together objects that offered intricacy, meaning and function beyond the everyday.  My art practice is motivated by sensorial and poetic use of natural and found materials.

I experiment with the use and behavior of ceramics in the context of contemporary life and visual art.  Ceramics is alert and nimble, evolving with the changing needs of cultures and communities. Clay is most familiar as a material used in traditional making.  While deeply respecting these traditions, my curiosity and passion for working in clay spring from the mischief and delight I experience in inviting it to misbehave.

Toying with the rules of craft, I engage hands-on skill as language, subverting “fluency” and “correctness” in making.  I explore the “wrong” way of doing things, striving to decolonize ceramic language – to open up new possibilities for ceramic encounters.

I roll and pinch clay into forms that melt, lean, lurch and dare you to approach. Shards, souvenirs, test tiles and trash are collected into ceramic structures. Nothing is thrown away (this immigrant lives in fear of waste). Old yogurt is used to start a new batch. What is worth risking for things to get juicy, rare, ripe? What might be discovered on the verge of things going bad?

I push clay bodies beyond temperatures they are able to withstand.  In extreme heat, forms twist and slump – upright linear elements sway and “lose” their shape.  In my sculptures, I stop just before structure gives way – pausing at the point between construction and collapse.

Fracture, “unbuilding” and re-situating ceramics are part of my process in creating large scale, site-responsive installations.  Aggressive physical interactions with material and form embody the ways that humans de-construct and re-shape our lives in situations of upheaval, change and trauma.  My sculptures and installations alternately hold and release these points of tension and precariousness.

The title of my sculpture in this exhibition, Reshaping Rage (when revenge makes perfect sense), is drawn from a recent New Yorker interview of Judith Butler.  I am inspired by how Butler talks about rage as something that can be crafted:

“People in the world have every reason to be in a state of total rage. What we do with that rage together is important. Rage can be crafted—it’s sort of an art form of politics. The significance of nonviolence is not to be found in our most pacific moments but precisely when revenge makes perfect sense.” – Judith Butler Wants Us to Reshape Our Rage

The New Yorker, interview by Masha Gessen February 9, 2020

DIRECTOR NOTES ON LINDA SORMIN

“Due to the extended run of Nature/Nurture, we had the opportunity to reflect on paths taken, connections made and shared experiences in our weekly series of FC News & Stories with each issue focusing on an individual artist in the exhibition. The ON NURTURE statements written by each artist acknowledges family, artist mentors, education and for Linda Sormin, a growing context for her work “Reshaping Rage” conceived of and titled prior to COVID19.
My first introduction to Linda was in 2008 when she started teaching at RISD but I didn’t fully understand her work until I experienced it in person when I met her at Greenwich House Pottery to see her solo installation, My Voice Changes When I Speak Your Language. Arriving with deeply held preconceptions of tightly controlled pedestal presentations, my viewpoint was permanently altered by seeing her bold, ambitious and gravity-defying use of the earthbound material – clay.
“Sormin practices the art of the slow burn– both literally… and also figuratively, in that her sprawling installations communicate a carefully controlled fury. It is a vivid, visual chamber music, in which not a single note of pragmatism, didacticism or functionalism can be heard… The visitor is encouraged to wander through this ceramic wonderland as if through an ancient forest.” –Glenn Adamson
We are pleased to announce that Linda Sormin will be included in MASS MoCA’s upcoming exhibition Sculpture and the Possibilities of Clay opening fall 2021 curated by Susan Cross, senior curator.”   – Leslie Ferrin, 2020.

ON HER WORK

Linda Sormin, a leading installation artist, is known for pushing the extremes of material and concept. The large size and delicacy of her work challenge the clay’s intrinsic strength. She combines found and built objects with internal imagery in multiple complex forms. Scale, color, and variety of references expand in her work to create a layered unity made of disparate fragments.

“The site looms above and veers past, willing me to compromise, to give ground. I roll and pinch the thing into place, I collect and lay offerings at its feet. This architecture melts and leans, hoarding objects in its folds. It lurches and dares you to approach, it tears cloth and flesh, it collapses with the brush of a hand.

Nothing is thrown away. This immigrant lives in fear of waste. Old yogurt is used to jumpstart the new batch. What is worth risking for things to get juicy, rare, ripe? What might be discovered on the verge of things going bad?” — Linda Sormin

GLAZED & DIFFUSED

GLAZED & DIFFUSED June 20–August 16, 2015 Ferrin Contemporary 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA EVENTS Saturday, June 20, 4 to 6 pm OPENING RECEPTION 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North...

CERAMIC TOP 40

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