Kathy Clark: bears; truths...
An installation displaying thousands of teddy bears, the artist heavily manipulates these pre-owned toys. At one time fulfilling their fundamental natural objective of companionship to the children of Reykjavík, these soft and cuddly teddies served an important purpose. They were brought to bed and slept with, dragged around, dressed, nurtured and cried to. Sadly, like most things, they eventually lose their usefulness and are abandoned. But now, perhaps they carry an energy from their past owners. If these bears could talk, would they reveal knowledge of their former child?
Clark uses wax on the stuffed bears to achieve a number of effects. She chooses to wrap some bears in thread and dips them in wax to make grotesque distorted forms; with others, she slices them up and empties out their stuffing before pouring hot wax over the limp pelts; and then there are those that she cuts up into pieces, and sews back together. Though never in their original form, the malformed creatures look even more peculiar when she manipulates thick textural wax on their fur. Clark stages each component in an arrangement that dictates an odyssey; repeats symbolically charged icons; and conceives elaborated titles for particular pieces. Her installation radiates a psychological perversion that she has single-mindedly plotted out using a system of her own. The anarchic disarray of stuffed toy bears that are, either singularly or altogether, waxed, tied up, sewn, glued, emptied, mangled—are schemes to conjure and orchestrate memories, including a sense of dejection, abandonment, and neglect.
Kathy Clark (b. 1957) lives and works in Reykjavik since 2005 and she has exhibited her works in Iceland and United States. Clark completed her master studies at San Francisco Art Institute in 1985, after receiving her undergraduate degree from San Diego State University.
Kathy Clark says:
“I am a collector. I collect used objects that I find interesting, since they contain history and a sublime feeling. Inspired by these objects, I create a dialogue and structures of ideas around them. They are a springboard for my work.
This is how my world of the teddy bear began.
This place – bears; truths… – is a place where all is not what it seems. It exhibits reflections of human nature and the natural world. This is the place where the teddy bears reside in many other forms and permutations. A sanctuary of sorts, it portrays a journey through the different worlds of the bears. It is a metaphor for us as humans, with our past experiences, good and bad.” – Kathy Clark (2015)