Walter McConnell’s installation work appealed to me for multiple reasons, not just his use of raw clay. His large terrarium-like structures engulf a room with their rather eerie, alien like appearance. He uses raw terracotta to create organic landscapes of sorts, with the addition of smaller scale human figures, as commentary on how we, as the technologically advanced and dependent age, only have an indirect connection to nature. In short, our relationship to nature as a culture alienated from it.
The terrariums are completely enclosed with a light inside, which causes condensation to appear and as a result keeps the clay moist. The moisture on the plastic blurs our vision, forming a barrier between us and the work, between us and nature. The plastic barrier, as well as representing a metaphorical barrier, contains the moisture, allowing McConnell to recycle his clay, eliminating the need for waste and was, in this instance, used by the students who helped him create the work.
I consider the most important thing for me to remember in relation to my own work is how I would maintain the moisture in the clay. Will I be using the clay on a long-term basis? If so, how will I help keep it in it’s raw state? These terrariums intrigue me but would they fit in to the performance aspect of my work? Will my work be a short period of time, allowing me to recycle it afterwards? McConnell has certainly inspired me to stress the technical sense of my work process.