SCAG presents… visiting artist, Beth Cavener

Sarah Manriquez / Sun Star

The UAF Student Ceramic Art Guild will host sculptor Beth Cavener Dec. 1-3 for a series of workshops and demonstrations of her art. Cavener is a full–time professional studio artist who currently resides in Helena, Mont. Her work explores human emotions using larger-than-life animal figures as her lens. She describes much of her work as portraits of people disguised as animals.

Cavener typically works with 2,000 pounds of clay or more at a time. Her life-size figures start out as small models called maquettes. She photographs the maquette and blows up the photograph to the scale she wants to work with. Cavener shapes clay over a steel pipe frame. Once the figure is completed, Cavener cuts the figure into sections and hollows each one out to 1/4” thickness so after the piece has been fired it isn’t as heavy.

“It’s incredibly labor intensive,” Cavener said. “A lot of the hollowing out will take months.”

The majority of the actual sculpting takes place during the hollowing process. It allows Cavener to add definition and muscular tension to the work.

“It’s what gives the sense of being haunted by the emotion,” Cavener said.

After the sculpture is kiln fired in its many sections, Cavener reassembles it with glues and epoxies. She usually paints the surface with flat interior latex paint, which allows her to fill in seams after reassembly and maintain the look and feel of clay.

Cavener was born in Pasadena, Calif., her mother a ceramicist and her father a molecular biologist. Cavener says that the connections between art and science have always been at the heart of her work.

“They raised me with an appreciation for the world on its most minute and grandiose scale,” Cavener said. “From my mother I learned the language of clay and the power of ideas passed through hands. My father and I spent hours staring at the night sky, while he stretched the seams of my imagination with tales of recombinant DNA and evolutionary battles on the microscopic scale. Every moment of my memory has been spent investigating the natural world around me.”

Cavener will conduct various demos, workshops and an artist talk throughout her three-day visit. Events are free and open to the public:
Tuesday, Dec. 1 10 a.m.-5 p.m Demo/Workshop UAF Ceramics Studio
Wednesday, Dec. 2 9 a.m.-5p.m. Demo/Workshop UAF Ceramics Studio
Thursday, Dec. 3 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Demo/Workshop UAF Ceramics Studio
6 p.m.-7 p.m. Potluck Dinner UAF Murie Auditorium
7 p.m.-8 p.m. Artist Talk UAF Murie Auditorium
Link to Beth Cavener’s artist video:

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