Shush: Kimberly Chapman Porcelain Sculptures

Kimberly Chapman, Bridled Women Series: Faint of Heart Helen (Detail)

Imagine . . . Shushing women with iron face bridles. Separating refugee mothers and daughters under the evil cloak of molestation and rape. Dressing your child in protective gear in defense of a school shooter. Or, grasping for household tools to protect yourself and your offspring from an alcoholic husband’s rage.

Such are the perils of womanhood.

Kimberly Chapman’s exhibition of 100 porcelain sculptures showcases a violent side of human nature. Through the female lens, her heavily-researched narratives call upon emotionally-charged sociopolitical issues. She uses the same sought-after material that kings, queens, and emperors craved for their elegant dinnerware and oversized ornamental vases. However, here the porcelain manifests a woman’s worst nightmare.

Hauntingly eerie and delicate, Chapman keeps a predominately white palette emphasizing the clay’s raw beauty with occasional flashes of molten gold or aged bronze. Some surfaces are marble smooth. Others are layered, fractured, or frosted like a cake.

A recent graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art, Chapman says she makes art to cast light on the injustices women and children have had and continue to confront. “We all know that throughout history, art has reflected its time. I like to think my sculptures provide a small window, a looking glass, to that effect.”