I am Penelope, I am not Penelope

After looking at my ceramics, a friend observed that the pieces seemed to exist outside of space; their defiance of gravity made them exist in a surreal place, a non-physical sphere. This seemed extraordinary, given the extreme physicality of ceramics. I became interested in exploring this line of thought, and it has led me in several directions simultaneously. This interest in non-real space has resulted in my examination of digital versus concrete space, the idea of absence as presence, and the illusions created through narrative.

Perhaps most obviously, this show includes prints as well as ceramics. The prints are digital: I have made them by using photoshop to manipulate photographs of myself, historical ceramic objects, images of my own ceramics, drawings and text. While the raw material going into the making of the prints reveals my touch, putting them together on the computer renders that touch theoretical. Creating art digitally is an experience of creating art outside of concrete space; I find this practice both engrossing and unnerving.

While using very new technology, I still use old technology as material and subject matter. I love seventeenth and eighteenth-century European porcelain; I find its bourgeois beauty transcendent, and want to usurp this beauty for my own work, both in the ceramic forms I make and in borrowing images for the prints.

Narrative creates its own reality, while also existing outside of material space. I have used autobiographical narratives in past ceramic works; I am now using a historical narrative parallel with my own. I became interested in the story of Penelope, from The Odyssey, who waited years for the return of her husband, continuously weaving and unweaving the shroud for her father-in-law in order to put off the time when she would be forced to choose a new husband. The story of Penelope is a story of attending one who is not present, and I was sympathetic to her tale. As I read the story, I constantly compared her experience to my own, and found both resonances and oppositions there. I have tried to express the consonance and the tension between the stories of Penelope and myself through both prints and ceramics.

- Jeanne Quinn