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I’ve always found metal to be an interesting material. It can be strong, durable, and even lustrous. However, if left abandoned to weather the elements for too long, it will eventually corrode and become brittle. The luster fades out as the corrosive elements gradually take over its surface. I find people to be the same. We can be so strong, so durable, but when we don’t take care of ourselves, we eventually lose those aspects. Even steel isn’t safe from rusting away. That is to say, even the strongest of minds and hearts need to be tended to. My series explores this concept of trauma as being represented through various metals and their respective corrosive counterparts. 

My personal inspiration for this series was therapy. Once I accomplish my goal of getting a masters degree in fine art, I plan on eventually pursuing a degree in art therapy. Needless to say, I’ve been a steadfast listener to those who need to talk about their struggles. Seeing these instances of how we process trauma, as well as my own experiences with mental health first hand, I decided to create this series as a sort of awareness and exploration of mental health and how we treat ourselves and others. 

When thinking through concepts, I knew I wanted to capture these emotions and stories through imagery of hands and decided to actively avoid cliche symbolism. I wanted the expressions of the hands to speak for themselves as much as possible, so I only used chains, spikes, and spiked spheres as common motifs which helped to further express each story. Additionally, it's important to note that every single piece is made out of ceramic clay. There is no metal used in any piece, including the chains and spikes. Everything, aside from the stands themselves, is ceramic. While sculpting is a big part of crafting each piece, my painting process is also notable. Using nothing but acrylic and aerosol paints, I strived to capture the illusion of solid metal.

All of these elements allowed me to push myself to create something that was physically and conceptually engaging. As a result, I was able to create pieces that explored the full range of human emotion; trauma, as well as healing.

Many of these pieces were created to challenge and expand the perception of the viewer. They can be interpreted with either a positive or negative aspect, ascribed by each individual based on their own experiences. The intent is to make the viewer reflect on what they interpreted first, and drive them to look deeper within their own psyche. While my work allowed me to explore these topics for myself, it’s existence now asks to be explored deeply and reflected upon by each observer, reaching all in a way that is intimate and unique.


Kimber Cottam

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