Natalie Ball in Artsy's "These 20 Female Artists Are Pushing Sculpture Forward"
By Tess Thackara
Aug. 4, 2018
Sculpture was once considered the domain of ambitious male artists, a medium as challenging in its physicality as it was limitless in scope. But for several decades, artists from Eva Hesse and Senga Nengudi to Phyllida Barlow and Ursula von Rydingsvard have carved a place for women working in contemporary sculpture. And in 2018, it’s arguably female artists who are creating some of the most interesting, challenging, and ambitious forms—freely taking the body apart, prodding taboos, and embracing the grotesque. The eclectic group of 20 international sculptors highlighted here ranges from emerging to mid-career talents. What connections can we draw between them? There’s the extraordinary influence of Louise Bourgeois, for one—nearly half of these artists cited the late artist as one of their icons. Doris Salcedo looms large, too.
Meanwhile, many of these practices underscore the fact that clay has been comfortably absorbed into the artist’s toolbox, moving well beyond the realm of vessels to become a commonplace material—as capable as steel, wood, resin, and other materials in pushing boundaries and helping us to see the world anew. Together, these artists are helping to define, question, and evolve the future of their medium.
B. 1980, United States. Lives and works in Chiloquin, Oregon.
Natalie Ball conceives of her sculptures—or “power objects,” as she calls them—as a way to “occupy, challenge, and disrupt.” Composed of materials like animal remains, toys, old clothes, and synthetic hair, they offer sometimes humorous alternatives to received narratives and dominant American identities.