Joanna Manning, “Inside the Hollows It Calls”

Joanna Manning
New Brighton, Minnesota

Inside the Hollows It Calls
red stoneware ceramic, felt, wool, leather cord
8 x 8 x 1.25″

Artist Statement

I use the book medium to provide an intimate experience with the viewer. Each page alternates between fired clay and felted wool bound together by leather cord. Images in the light pink fired clay are achieved with collagraph printmaking plates impressed upon clay when still in a semi-plastic stage. After firing, each textural impression is highlighted with a painted layer of slip, a watered-down state of clay. Light brown felt pages softly cushion the clay pages. Using the needle felting process I create wool forms on felt pages. Needle felting requires a special needle that has sharp, barbed blades with which I separate and interlock wool fibers to form condensed material that I attach to the felt pages.

Referencing the form and scale of organs from the human body, I abstract and repeat their forms in Inside the Hollows It Calls. Textures found on surfaces of the work feel soft, smooth, rough, cold, or hard. The felt and clay construction mirror a durable yet fragile body: humans are naked inside clothes and creatures of blood-circulating organs. My work also explores questions of gender and sexuality by embracing the stereotypically female color palette of pinks and claiming these as universal colors that exist inside and within all bodies. Further, I extend and acknowledge nuances in these colors that exist in the whole body, including sexual organs. Isolated forms are centered on the page, creating a tactile and conceptual sequence. The abstract quality of the images leave room for the viewer to imagine a visceral narrative unfolding.