My sculptural work, regardless of the material, expresses my truth as an African American woman. I build connections with nature, people, and the spiritual world through the use of texture, abstract forms, and cultural patterns. While creating figurative language and poetry are essential to my design process just as an author uses illustration. Each sculpture has a unique poem that they are identified as other than a title or name. I incorporate many raw materials such as hair, leaves, and saw dust to personify the 3-dimentinal work. The majority of my work is made from earthenware and stoneware clay where I utilize many different approaches and tools when building surface texture whether it’s carving, scratching, or smoothing out the surfaces to emphasis body features or to be symbolic to certain characteristics of the sculpture.
My recent ceramic sculptural work is based on my daily observation of human communication through body language. These slender or chunky figures are abstractly formed by the weight pull of the clay which make unique convex or concave features to compliment the form. The piercing of the clay is significant to the absence of gesture without signage or language. The figures are replications of communication between two people and at the same time can interact with the audience.
Inspiration & Purpose of design
What inspired me to create this body of work was my interest of people watching and paying attention to the small details of reading body language and gesture without signage or language. My goal is to bring awareness to the psychology of understanding, and the impact of human nature and nonverbal communication. This ultimately creates connections between the viewer and the art object. The oddness of the form invites the viewer to then be a part of the conversation when being gazed upon or unacknowledged. The distance, height, and negative space play a role of how one may exemplify proxemics. Paralinguistic is the reason I create on a larger scale, “It’s not what you say, but it’s how you say it”, which is another factor of nonverbal communication. The sculptures scale and color are a metaphor for the voice of my work. These personified figures are black and white because they’re to be symbolic to the absence of noise, so the audience is to only focus on the figures body language. My pedestals contradict my work to the fact of nonverbal communication is not heard or to be loud which my work opposes to be. I placed the figures on these loud rough textured wooden crate pedestals to adopt purpose of a soapbox.
Lily Stennis-Vinson, born and raised in North Omaha, Nebraska is a 2023 University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, majoring in Fine Arts with an emphasis in ceramics & Pre-Dentistry. Growing up with 9 and 4 adopted siblings she never had too many close friends because of her family orientated personality. Shy in her adolescence, Lily’s hands gave her a voice and allowed her to create visual representations of her words, bringing them to life! Art has been Lily’s passion since she was six when she began drawing; over the years, she’s explored multiple mediums of art, but sculpture gave her the best of both worlds when wanting to use multiple mediums.