“As the product of an American father and a Mexican mother, I am influenced by the conflicting expectations that I have received as a woman in my two cultures,” says the artist Nicole McLaughlin. From her studio in Marion, Massachusetts, McLaughlin combines historically indigenous crafts – ceramics and fiber art – into eye-catching sculptures that explore identity and heritage, particularly around gender expectations, traditions, and the changes that occur over the generations.
In her mixed media works, the artist contrasts the soft, pliable fibers with the fragility of the panels painted with blue and white motifs. Dyed in loose gradients and earth tones, the loose threads are woven through the sloping ceramic edges and knotted in the middle. McLaughlin explains the importance of removing the usefulness of both elements after combining:
(The ships) serve as carriers for fibers. When the fiber flows out of, woven into, or frames the ceramic, it distorts functionality, but becomes a useful component when the panel and fabric fuse. The vessels contain an expression of femininity and an essence of personal and cultural history.
These dichotomies in the materials also reflect the artist’s experience of avoiding “the feminine ideals of my Mexican identity,” she says. “I am a force, and I think I tend to push the boundaries of what might be within female expectations in Mexican culture.”
Are such stories and artists important to you? To become something Colossal member and support independent art publishers. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art and support ours Interview series, get access to partner discounts and much more. Join now!