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Christina West - Unmet

Combining a realist, minimalist aesthetic with a surrealist twist, Christina West’s sculptures feel otherworldly. Her Unmet series presents a variety of busts completed in the traditional sculptural medium of hydrocal (also known as gypsum).

Christina West, Unmet #16 + Unmet #18

The busts are initially prepared by layering dyed hydrocal in a variety of colors. The final white layer completes what appears to be a classical, studio-white portrait bust. However, at this stage the piece is only halfway complete. West proceeds to carefully remove and subtract from the facial features, removing identifying visual characteristics, and playing with the idea of identity.

Christina West, Unmet #16, Pigmented Hydrocal, 18 x 9 x 11 inches

The busts are initially prepared by layering dyed hydrocal in a variety of colors. The final white layer completes what appears to be a classical, studio-white portrait bust. However, at this stage the piece is only halfway complete. West proceeds to carefully remove and subtract from the facial features, removing identifying visual characteristics, and playing with the idea of identity.

Christina West, Unmet #18, Pigmented Hydrocal, 18.5 x 9 x 8 inches

“Interiority” or the “interior”, physically as well as psychologically, is a central theme in West’s work. The emphasis here is not what has been lost but what has been gained by the slacking off of these non-essential layers, revealing the space within. Of this process West says, “Features are removed, leaving flat, colorful planes that become abstract suggestions of the figures’ interiority.” The idea of the “other” comes into play in the work as well. As we are left with few of the usual visual cues that suggest character, age, demographic or personality, we are left to rely on the colorful strata of the busts’ interiors as a representation of the “complexity of character and psychology that make others so mysterious.” This process is suggested in the way in which the interior layers of gypsum seem to weave and melt, obeying a mysterious, intrinsical set of rules, seemingly melting deeper and deeper into the headspace of the busts.

Christina West (b. 1980) is a sculptor based in Atlanta, Georgia. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in permanent collections such as the American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona, CA, and the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts, San Angelo, TX