• karen crews hendon

The Intuitive Body - The Sculpture of Alison Petty Ragguette

Updated: May 27, 2020

The sculpture of Alison Petty Ragguette is an ontological exploration that examines the physiological developments and philosophical processes of life. Created by juxtaposing materials that both counter and embrace one another, the artist merges porcelain clay, silicone rubber, pigment, silk, and glass. Her objects are playfully seductive, producing compositions that flex, spill, dilate, bulge, and bubble, exploring the wondrous anatomical transformations that occur beneath our skin. Her concentration at the cellular levels, viscera systems, and interests with fundamental biomechanical relationships create narratives that communicate how our physical forms manifest in the emotional, mental, and energetic layers of our being.

Ragguette’s sculptures allow the viewer opportunities to fully engage with the nature of ourselves. Our bodies are wondrous miracles of movement, and the artist celebrates the process, morphology, and rawness of its truth, investigating the relationships that co-exist between their structures and purposes. Intimate and mysterious, her works symbolize isolated aspects of us.

She exposes evidence of vitality (or the lack thereof) due to the cyclical bond and influences that occur between our internal and external environments. Nevertheless, the qualities of each object demonstrate resiliency. Her amorphous bodies are unbiased, and neither express positive or negative qualities but rather express neutrality and remain scientific in nature. They are sculpted as if the forces of matter and energy have responded to a natural occurrence. Cause and effect are at play, and emotional responses are the projection of viewers’ experiences when interacting with her work.

Ragguette celebrates the endless possibilities that exist within the untamable coordination of nature. She fleshes-out her visions with curiosity and experimentation, while her fascination with symbiotic structures and the co-existence of opposing energies continue to drive her concepts and push boundaries. Her use of soft, malleable, and rigid materials mirrors physics and balances the forces of nurturing and dominant behavior. Ragguette’s combinations are thoughtfully constructed and demonstrate the mutually beneficial association of two or more elements that live and grow together. Honoring the contrasts, she presents alluring foreign and familiar hybrids that push, pull, and metamorphosize. Coating them with shiny, candy-like colors stimulate a visual appeal that entices with playful approachability.

Porcelain, the purest and most delicate of clay, remains principal to Ragguette’s work. Symbolic of our bones and containing some of the most abundant elements in the Earth’s crust, porcelain’s soft sediment and creamy plasticity is responsive to touch, possessing almost mystical qualities. Working in relationship with the artist’s hand, it plays into the evolution of her concepts of molecular rearrangement and synthesis.

Retaining a memory, porcelain is an intuitive material, and its tender strength transforms itself as hard as glass after its firing. Coupling this historically resilient material with rubber offers the ephemeral contrast Ragguette desires. Rubber’s limited lifespan plays a crucial role to furthering her concepts—symbolically paralleling the functions that organisms adopt in order to facilitate growth, maturation, and birth. The rubber, although considered a low-grade material, continues to remain significant acting as a flexible barrier, a placenta, in harmony with the other materials.

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