Beth Cavener and anthropomorphism

Beth Cavener (1972), clay sculptor.

The artist forms animals by hollowing out blocks of clay, giving her subjects a raw, unrefined appearance as if they sprang from the material itself. Cavener focuses her sculpture on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalization, and articulated through animal forms. This use of veiled anthropomorphism began in 2002. “On the surface,” says Cavener, “these figures are simply feral animals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface, they embody the consequences of human fear, apathy, aggression, and misunderstanding”.

When creating her sculptures of animals, Cavener stated “…I borrowed the perceived purity and moral innocence of the animal image and imbued it with human complexity”. In making these painstakingly modeled works Cavener has learned to read meaning in the subtler signs; “relying on animal body language in her work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits. Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions, both an invitation and a rebuke.”

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