Fine art: The sculpture of Beth Cavener Stichter
My brother (an artist himself) texted me a while back: “Hey! I think the fandom should have a dose of fine art maybe? Check out Beth Cavener Stichter. Art reviews may not be your thing, but art exposure could be fun.”
He’s right; art reviews are not (usually) my thing, but art exposure can be fun. Especially when the art in question features anthropomorphism of this quality. As my brother’s follow up text put it, “And she is just that @#$%ing good.”
According to quotes from Stichter’s Wikipedia article (I told you I was bad at art reviews), her sculptures:
… are simply feral animals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface, they embody the consequences of human fear, apathy, aggression, and misunderstanding.
Basically, she is using the term “feral” in exactly the same way furries use it, though completely incidentally. Probably. However, her sculptures are made in such a way that we can’t help but anthropomorphize them – just like “feral” characters drawn by furries.
So what’s the difference? Well, honestly, I find the main difference between Stichter’s art and the average furry “feral” artist is that Stichter has a degree, shows her art in real galleries as well as online, and can spout pretentious nonsense about two goats making out with raging hard-ons better. Not to say furries can’t spout pretentious nonsense; she’s just better at getting the right people to believe hers.
That’s not to say that she’s not better than most furry “feral” artists; she is. Most furry artists just draw their art. But Stichter doesn’t just draw; she … well, it’s actually rather complicated, so I’ll let Wikipedia describe it again:
Cavener Stichter's working method is unusual - she builds her stoneware sculptures solid on metal armatures, often with 2,000 or more pounds of clay at a time, then cuts the piece into 30-160 sections, hollows each section out to 1/4" thickness, and reassembles them before firing. In order to work on a larger scale, the reassembled hollow pieces are then cut again to fit inside the kiln, fired, and then reassembled with glues and epoxies. A slideshow of this process can be seen on her website under the materials and techniques section.
If we’re talking about “degree of difficulty,” she’s working at a much higher level than the average furry, and succeeding more often with this more difficult process.
Of course, that does not mean the average furry artist should despair for their own work, unless their work is one of those that fails spectacularly (in those cases, despair is probably appropriate). Most furries aren’t looking to get into a real world gallery, after all; nor are many of them doing this as their career. However, it is nice to realize that someone as talented as Stichter is doing something similar to furry outside the fandom; at the very least, it proves the ideas behind a lot of what furries are doing is sound, even if the execution isn’t always up to par.