At first, Colorado based artist Courtney Mattison, who describes herself as a visual learner, began sculpting her elaborate works inspired by sea creatures as a better way of understanding them. But over time, her love and admiration for these organisms evolved into a message about their well being and preservation. Previously featured here on our blog, Mattison hopes that her ceramic sculptures and installations, based on her own photographs of different organisms living in coral reefs, will inspire others to appreciate the beauty of the ocean as she does.
Mattison depicts the marine ecosystem as fragile as her ceramic pieces: “Not only does the chemical structure of my work parallel that of a natural reef, but brittle porcelain anemone tentacles break easily if improperly handled, similar to the delicate bodies of living reef organisms. This shared sense of fragility is fundamental to the message of my work.” Her ongoing series, “Our Changing Seas”, features large-scale ceramic coral reef installations that present the fragile beauty of reefs and the human-caused threats they face.
Her most recent installation is “Aqueduct”, a colorful and sweeping 8ft tall installation made of glazed stoneware and porcelain, included in her solo show “Sea Change” at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art. The piece addresses the issue of how climate change will cause tropical sea creatures to migrate towards the poles and invade terrestrial spaces as seawater warms and sea levels rise. In an email to Hi-Fructose, Mattison explained: “”Aqueduct” is a playful yet ominous exploration of this question, with hundreds of porcelain and stoneware corals, anemones, sponges and other marine invertebrates spilling into the gallery from a hand-carved porcelain air duct register, begging another question: Will we act urgently to halt climate change and keep the ocean in its place, or will we allow the sea to consume us?”