Chloe Buergenthal


From Left to Right: Vessel 3, Vessel 4, Vessel 5 (center), Vessel 1, Vessel 2/Fire Vessel.

Within this series, I have attempted to investigate my own emotional turmoil through forms called vessels, both for their utility and storytelling abilities. Each is a physical representation of specific feelings that I have experienced due to the intense stress and anxiety that have become normal for so many in 2020. The individualistic approach I use in regards to how I handle, create, and represent each feeling through the plaster form is one that I hope encourages audience members to form their own ideas concerning the meaning behind each vessel. My pieces are inspired partially by ancient Greek and Roman vessels, as my original intention for this series came from forms similar to ancient stylings to represent both personal and societal struggles occurring in today’s world. While I wanted to actively categorize and create relics of both my own and our larger world’s current status, I have instead become focused on the documentation of solely my own interpersonal struggles. This change in direction occurred as I moved forward with my first sculptural form and realized that my voice could only be used to speak for myself. Instead, I have created vessels that tell of my own emotional engagement with the world around me and actively preserves my reaction to it.

Vessel 5

Vessel 4

At the start of this series, it became important to me to emphasize the process of art-making itself as opposed to the end product. This, as well as my experimentation of material, has been primarily inspired by Arlene Shechet, who creates paper reliefs using different textures and dimensional molds, as well as sculptural forms in clay. I was also inspired by Shechet’s decision-making skills, as she quickly reacts to her pieces depending on their reception to her additions. Along with this, she frequently “takes chances” with her work. Nina Kekman, a mixed media visual artist, has also been a significant influence throughout this project. Her tufted wall to floor installation piece Forest Bathing greatly inspired my use of different shapes and layering. A close-up of the piece shows Kekman’s use of layered fibers to add movement to the piece to make it feel as though it’s reaching out towards the audience. 

Vessel 3

Vessel 1

While my work looks quite different than both Shechet and Kekman’s, I draw from their work my own desire to not only experiment with texture and form but to also take chances throughout my creative process. These chances include my use of texture created from the manipulation of string and yarn, as well as my embrace of messiness. The embracing of messiness and quick decision-making has allowed me to physically work through my emotional distress while breaking-through to a place of my own heightened creativity and artistic exploration. This is echoed not only through the placement of textures and imagery onto each vessel, but also in each work’s original structural formation. While each piece is intended to represent specific feelings or emotions, few of them were actually built with a specific image in mind.

Vessel 2/Fire Vessel