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Jamaica

In focus: Object Design as a tool for socially engaged storytelling with Caroline Holder

Caroline Holder was born in England to a Jamaican mother and Barbadian father; living in Barbados until she was a teenager, then pursuing studies in Arts and Design, including Ceramics and Art Education in Canada and North America. Throughout the years, she has maintained a consistent studio practice while teaching art at the Professional Children’s School.

Holder’s primary medium is clay, from which she crafts ceramic object sculptures combined with drawings and text. Her influences include a background in printmaking, a love of pen and ink drawings, experiences of intersectional identity as a Caribbean immigrant in North America, and most recently the life-altering experience of late motherhood.

Enchanted by objects—especially old tools and appliances— she re-creates household artifacts and further embellishes them with drawings, patterns, and/or text. The pieces are seldom traditionally functional in their original context, and their fabrication in clay is often satisfyingly incongruous. Furthermore, as the articles reflect the lived realities of their users, they come with their own histories of fabrication and use, creating the opportunity for layered contexts.

TRUST, 2005, slip cast ^6 porcelain
32-HAND RED BABY, 2005, slip cast ^6 porcelain
The front of this giant monitor receiver shows the struggle between recalcitrant Jesus and frustrated Mary, giving the lie to the myth of eternally serene motherhood. The original is a portable shackle that, clipped to your belt or standing at your bedside, can alert you with the smallest sigh or its absence, guaranteeing that for as long as you use it, your own sleep will be entirely fugitive.

Insomniac’s Menagerie speaks to the non-hierarchical nature of ideas and the universality of human experience, no matter where we originate or from what circumstances. 

THE SOLITARY EATER’S TABLE,2009. White earthenware, sgraffito, 16.5 x 5 x 17h. The Solitary Eater sits alone in front of the TV. Though a meal of sorts is prepared, it is eaten straight out of the saucepan with a spoon, in what Bajans would describe as “holding a low gear”. The infomercial suggests a late night; the dead plant suggests that the eater is seldom home.
A RAISIN IN MILK, 2004. Sgraffito on ^6 porcelain, 8 x 4 x 12h. I found myself in the minority for the first time at university in Toronto. My sister teased me that I was like a raisin in milk. One little black hand waves amid its lighter fellows, while under the window there is a small fly, also out of its regular environment.The hands are individually slip cast, from a mold made from a tiny doll arm found in my studio.
I WILL NOT MAKE PAPER PLANES IN CHURCH, 2004. Sgraffito on ^6 porcelain, 13 x 8.5 x 4.5. The Cathedral intimidated, with its smell of Old, its thick coral-stone bricks, and fraying red carpets from the back door straight to God. Every inch was patterned, from alter cloths and embroidered priests to wall plaques, and gravestones. I survived sermons by making paper planes from the weekly Bulletin. I made single-sheet, double-sheet, down-turned-beak and upturned-wing-flap planes and never flew a single one in certain knowledge that punishment would be swift and sure.

The hammer series developed when, saturated with talk of weapons of mass destruction, I started contemplating weapons of personal destruction.

Follow Caroline Holder on her social media >

✽ Instagram

✽ Website

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