Nature reclaims its place: Viral by Jess Riva Cooper

At first glance, they look like feminine busts with floral print, very romanticism meets baroque. A closer look reveals many more layers than I’ve expected. Some even look rather ‘medusa’-like, unfortunately. However, it’s undeniable that the sculptures are visually striking and memorable.

The intricacy of the details is impressive. What looks like standard busts you see in art class are covered with flowers and leaves, printed or in relief. Overgrown and enfolding the busts, the force of nature and the stillness of porcelain provide a haunting imagery.

Created by Jess Riva Cooper, a ceramic artist and educator based in Toronto, this series was done during her artist residency at John Michael Kohler Arts Centre.

Cooper says, “In my art practice, I integrate colour, drawing and clay to create installation-based artwork. I investigate fallen economic and environmental climates in regions such as Detroit, Michigan, where houses have become feral, disappearing behind ivy, trees and Kudzu vines that were planted generations ago. In my sculptures, the world sprouts plant matter. Colour and form burst forth from quiet gardens and bring chaos to ordered spaces. Nature reclaims its place by creeping over structures. Wild floral growth subverts past states, creating the preternatural from this transformation.”


Viral Series (2013), Ceramic, glaze, decal, 11″ x 8.3″ x 18″

Happy Good friday!

x Sybil

(Images from Jess Riva Cooper)

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