Crystal Morey | Biography

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Media Description: Porcelain

Artist Statement

I grew up in a small town in the Sierra Nevada foothills of Northern California. Living so close to nature filled my early years with an appreciation for the natural world and gave me an understanding of plant and animal life cycles. I spent my free time swimming in lakes and rivers, climbing trees, hiking in the snow, and exploring and building forts out in the forest. These early experiences filled my life with joy, imagination, and a tendency toward inward contemplation.

I now live in Oakland, California and the urban landscape in my daily life is a stark contrast to the mountains and trees of my formative years. My experience of living in this place is what inspires my work today. I am interested in the intellectual, emotional and primal relationship between humans and their environment. My understanding of mans role in the environment has changed. I once saw humans as being under the umbrella of “nature,” subservient to natural happening. I now realize humans are the largest variable in the changing of our planet’s ecological and environmental outcome. We are living in an era of what has been called a “great acceleration,” and in the past one hundred years, humans have developed and changed the planet in a very drastic way. Through hunting, deforestation, ocean acidification, gene manipulation, industrial agriculture, and mountaintop removal, we are now the driving force behind environmental change. Today every human development has a reaction we can see and these actions are causing havoc, leading us to an unsustainable environment.

These are the ideas I keep in my mind when I am making sculpture. I am interested in the effects these difficult situations have on the human psyche and how we respond to them. I try to show the stresses in our cohabitation through making sculptures of humans, animals, the environment and the delicate dependencies we share.

My creative research plays a distinct role in the concepts behind my work. I am interested in learning about animals with stressed habitats due to human interaction. I am sensitive to looking for creatures that we as humans can relate to, giving us a stronger sense of our relationship to the earth. I am also intrigued in the way other cultures, past and present, relate in their ecosystems and how I can incorporate these ideas of their nature and culture into my work.

In addition to my cultural and ecological artistic research I am interested in looking at creation, ancestral, and destruction stories from other places and cultures. I strive to create reinterpretations of these stories that are more relevant to the contemporary narrative I am trying to convey while also looking to relate an idea with empathy, beauty and emotion.

In my most recent work I am using clay to build figurative sculptures of humans encased in animals. I use delicate and emotive gesture, rich texture, and subdued, sepia tones to create telling, intimate objects that capture current psychological, environmental, and cultural feelings. The figures are contemplative and inward thinking, seeing a future outcome that is uncertain. The animals I use are either extinct or have become endangered due to human impact in this era of “great acceleration” since the Industrial Revolution. The concepts behind the work are about our contemporary environmental issues while the visual structure pursues a totemic feel. I am looking at visual material including Native American ceremonial masks and regalia, Byzantine and Renaissance devotional painting, secular portraits and altarpieces, and Egyptian antiquities.

I am interested in how human advancements in technology, agriculture, and urbanization have imposed stress on natural ecosystems and the species that live within them. Through my sculptures I try to humanize these ideas and present them in a way that is accessible, interesting, and conversation provoking. I hope that the viewer comes away from my work thinking and asking questions about our role as humans on the earth and our relationship to other living beings. I hope to raise awareness of these urgent issues while also showing our humanity, ingenuity, and ability to be flexible and innovate as species.

Morey's latest press release and interview with Beautiful Bizarre Magazine highlight her recent pieces and process. A pdf of this interview is available here for downloading and reading.
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