Betsy Odom mines a vast array of materials and techniques culled from traditional crafts and trades to explore the display of identity. Working from leather tooling to woodturning, ceramics to air-brushing, mold making to metalworking, Odom explores how these techniques and their materials become cultural signifiers, and in particular, have informed her development. Whether Southern culture, women’s athletics, car enthusiasts or hobbyists, the aesthetics of these groups, which often serve to reinforce embedded messages about gender, class, race, and sexuality, become material for Odom to manipulate in the subversion of their dominant associations, ultimately creating objects that entertain a fantasy of moving freely among social groups.
Embracing the “hubris” of making, Odom meticulously works her objects, never shying away from their materiality or the evidence of investment in their making. She uses this labored craft as a display of pride in craftsmanship, one that for her parallels the pride claimed by minority communities: dignity in opposition to a history of shame.
For Registry, Odom has amassed a number of her sculptures, displayed on a set of tables that simultaneously reference worktables, a museum archive and retail display. Her sculptures are at once romantic, humorous and symbolic, calling on a list of characters that Odom cites: the ghosts of women’s gym coaches, crushes on camp-counselors, slightly too old tomboys and brassy-old maids-- illuminating and conflating the unique aesthetics that accompany these invisible cultures.