Animals have been used in stories as metaphors and analogues for human experiences and feelings for ages. Their representations are a source of comfort, protection, wisdom, tragedy, and sorrow. In reality, we manipulate, control, use, and abuse these very same animals for our own benefit. The sculptures I create stem from this dichotomy.
My recent work consists of hand-built clay and mixed media animal sculptures adorned with non-traditional ceramic surfaces. The composite animals are not individual portraits nor individual portraits; rather they embody elements from several species into distinct forms. The animals function as representations of emotional states not fixed to time, place, or specific experiences. They are fractured and dislocated, reflecting my experience of a contemporary culture that is not whole.
The animal works are tender, innocent survivors of exploitation and alteration. They call out for attention from their disturbed and/or overly loved states. Expressions of distress, suffering, sorrow, despair, despondence, dejection, desperation, and anguish exist side-by-side with qualities of being well-loved and having lived well. The animal figures represent the point where the innocent become the manipulated, controlled, exploited, and sometimes feared. They are at a place of no return, worn down and on the edge of existence. Through my work I aim to suggest that violence and vulnerability is not out in some far-off war zone, but rather at the very heart of our domestic lives’ chaos and disorder.
—Undine Brod, February 2014