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Trail: ArtistStatement


I create sculptures using digital processes and handwork which are either shown as physical artefacts or populate virtual spaces I create. Drawing from my extensive experience in net art, video games, and mixed reality, I bring the same emphasis on personal narratives, character development, and innovation which have been hallmarks of my previous collaborative work.

In my new bodies of work, I begin with a character in mind. Often I will explore this character by making scans: of myself, of those close to me–they begin with living form. These scans go through a metamorphosis as they are combined with other scans or sculpted elements from my extensive library: scans from my own clay sculptures, digitally-crafted 3D sculptures made from drawings or from my imagination, copies of ancient figures encountered in museums, forms found from daily wandering through my home city of Rome or other towns where I travel. These works are fundamentally hybrid: composed of found and original works from different sources, eras, and cultures, each part contributing to the narrative. Through 3D scanning and modeling, I can combine elements that would otherwise be impossible. The character’s histories and forms are compressed within a single sculpture.

Many of the works draw from Hellenistic art, the ancient time period between 300BC and 31AD. I get a pleasant jolt from acknowledging a debt not only to the contemporary, fast changing world of computer technology but also to the distant past which changes only in the way we retell its stories. My work is Hellenistic not only through my affinity for those forms, but also the ethos of syncretism as a way of working. The amalgamated elements coming from disparate contexts are combined within 3D modeling software. As I mould the works, I also mould the characters, each with its own narrative. Each nexus of elements produces several sculptures; I reconfigure the pieces until the character’s story is complete. I work with whichever character resonates most with me, filtering well-known narratives through my own retelling. For example, one scan of my head is transformed into an AR cyclops bust (Thou Askest Me of My Glorious Name, 2019); another scan of a clay sculpture from a live model is the basis for a monsterous bronze-coated 3D print (Leviathan, 2018); then those models are further changed and combined with a 3D scan of the Torso of Polyphemus from Palazzo Altemps to produce a small resin 3D print (Sketch for a Cyclops, 2019), an AR sculpture (Cyclops, 2019), and finally a much larger hand-finished 3D print with clay, wax, and pigment (Cyclops, 2020).
While working on the computer, I work with precision, but once the elements become physical, the work becomes energetic and intuitive. Materially, I am inspired by textures such as the ritual patina of mud and blood encrusted Boli power figures, the traces of pigment left on translucent ancient Greek marble and Yoruba sculpture also, with its rich dark stain and contrasts of smooth and tooled surfaces, or the quick but deft figure sketch of the late 19th century French or Italian Baroque sculptor’s terra-cotta, traces of handwork left in the clay. But because I have been a digital artist my entire life, I also complement the physical work by bringing back the sculptures’ digital origin through the sculptural use of AR. I am bridging a gap between the digital and physical, the possible and impossible. The digital surface can be covered in simulated textures which I use to create a realistic illusion or uncanny dissonance. My work looks towards the future of mixed reality, incorporating new developments as they are released. The AR sculptures not only allow viewers to experience the work as more than an image on a screen, but to experience a different kind of time, a continuousness of now. My belief is that the digital is in many ways the true form of the sculptures that I make.

As an African American woman who has lived in Europe for many years, I find myself sometimes feeling isolated from my culture, but also awash in the traces left by the African diaspora. Looking to the future, I find humanity and creativity among the ashes of our late-capitalist corporate demented version of civilization. Looking back at history, I connect with and pay tribute to my ancestors. I sift through artifacts of Western culture in order to find myself and my lineage. I recognize that these objects themselves are hybrid products, and often more imaginative than truthful. Ultimately, nothing feels foreign to me. My sculptures make my influences evident and I fuse them with my own creations to reinvent, reinterpret, and retell new narratives.