ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: MARINA KUCHINSKI 'GOING SOLO' JUROR'S CHOICE AWARD WINNER FROM "CERAMIC CENTRIC"

Marina Kuchinski

How did you first become involved with art?

I was born in Latvia and at the age of 4 moved to Israel with my parents. I have memories from Latvia of my father telling stories and drawing them for me at the same time. This was my very first exposure and fascination with art. I have always loved making art ever since. My father was not an artist but could draw very well. My mother was a maker, artist, designer, and a very creative person. My parents cultivated my love for art and encouraged me to pursue art classes as a child. I had a wonderful sculpture teacher when I was 10 years old whose influence resides with me to this day. I went to a fine arts high school, then pursued my BFA and MFA in ceramics.

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Do you have an academic training or art education?

I completed my BFA in ceramics at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. After that, I moved to the US and completed my MFA in ceramics at Penn State University.


What inspires your artwork?

I have always been an observer. Everything around me intrigues me visually: humans, animals, buildings, rocks, trees and the view of the street from my window. Making art is the natural way for me to reflect on what I see and experience.

Conceptually, I am interested in relationships between people and relationships between humans and animals. This helps me investigate the human experience, the animal experience, and the way animals have been perceived in both historical and contemporary contexts. I am using animal subjects to open up human understanding of animal experiences and attempt to think from an animal “other” point of view. Postcolonial research and animal studies theories provide sources and references for my work.

In “Acceptable Breed Colors” for example, I was interested in genetic modifications that produced the infinity of dog breeds that humans developed from the wolf. Everything can be controlled, even a dog’s eye color.

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Your award winning piece depicts dogs. Do you always use animals to communicate artistically?

I usually make animal forms. Some of the times I combine animal with human forms and other times I create human forms only. When making animal forms, most of my work evolves around domesticated animals such as dogs and cats.

I am interested in animal representations that explore animality through our relationship with animals, and more broadly, our relationship with the “other”. I am hoping that my desire to discover what is animal can also lead to a greater understanding of what it means to be human. I focus on the boundaries between the two to investigate the various ways humans have been able to alter an animal’s behavior. Pets are humanized animals, and in many cases, the closest contact we have with the wild. A contradiction that may be characterized by both intimacy and exploitation is a departure point for many of the pieces I make.

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Describe your process and materials. Include pictures!

In most of my works, I use the solid clay construction method. I handbuild with solid clay; this allows me to easily add and subtract when creating the form. When the pieces are larger or more complex, I also use armature to prevent them from collapsing. When the form is complete, I hollow the piece out to form an approximately ¼” – ½” wall. I then fire the work, usually with minimal glazing or color.

Other times I slip cast or press mold my pieces. I have a general cat head mold for example, that I press mold to create multiple cat heads, and then change specific features, such as the ears and eyes in each cat.

What are you currently working on in your studio?

I have been recently experimenting with marbling and inlaying clays when creating my handbuilt forms.

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