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Betsy Birkner
North Carolina

Artist Statement Submitted 2015

“I should be . . .” Armor Series

The fragility of the fired clay is important to me as I create chest armor, a utilitarian object of protection in conflict. The armor tells a story about how we react to, integrate with, or spit upon the messages dictated to us by family, media and society. Growing up in the South, there were expectations about how a woman should succeed. “I should be nice,” is the first rule of southern charm. The larger cultural expectations dictate that women should have babies, careers, be sexy, or skinny etc., sometimes pushing us to illness or outrageous surgeries. We armor ourselves, protecting the vulnerability of the authentic self. The ceramic armor serves as a façade of adorned fragility until our true values can emerge. The armor is molded, adding hand-built, molded and found objects, and finished with, glaze, wax and casein paint.

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