Marie Gunias


Senior Project April 2015


Accreditation | Contact the Webmaster | FGCU Directory | An EO/AA/Diversity institution

© FGCU 3/8/2013 1:08:50 PM. This is an official FGCU web page.

Florida Gulf Coast University
10501 FGCU Blvd, South
Fort Myers, FL 33965-6565
(239) 590-1000 or (800) 590-3428

Whether infant or adult, to be human is to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is the center of our humanity and part of our human condition. From conception until our departure from this world, we are susceptible to physical, spiritual and emotional wounds. The human psyche's internal response to trauma sets up a “self-care system” designed to ensure a person's survival and as caretakers and parents, we have an innate instinct to protect and nurture our children and our loved ones. A vulnerable unborn infant is tightly wrapped in its mother’s womb, protected by an amniotic sac so incredibly thin its appearance is translucent, yet it remains resilient as it shields a new life and brings it to term. Wrapping the body in a blanket creates a sense of comfort and peace while helping those who suffer from traumatic stress. Upon death, many cultures wrap their loved ones for the last time in fabric to prepare and protect the body for burial. Ancient Egyptian, Indonesian, and European folk cultures believe fabrics draped around a person are imbued with magical, protective powers. Fabrics are used to protect and contain the enigmatic life force that lies beneath, changing the relationship between the fabric and the body on metaphoric and metaphysical levels.

My inspiration comes from my experience of pregnancy and my newfound maternal instinct to nurture, protect, and shield my son and create for him a physical and emotional sense of security.  My mother provided me with her unconditional, self-sacrificing love, among all the challenges she faced was able to always provide her children a sense of comfort and unyielding protection. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all need to be nurtured to grow; we all need to feel safe and protected. Porcelain is an organic, earthly material. It is soft and malleable, yet once fired becomes strong, conveying the qualities of durability and perseverance. The materil when wet is pliable, yet forgiving, and has concealing and mending qualities, much like fabric. The porcelain is a metaphor for the delicateness and fragility of human vulnerability, but also in its final stage, a poetic reflection of our strength and endurance.  The clay is made to resemble fabric, which in my pieces, is symbolic of this nurturing love and feeling of security. The fabric becomes the “third hand” of the wrapper, a metaphorical extension of love which absorbs the protective power from the wrapper while passing it to the wrapped individual. This love gives us the strength that helps us to not only cope, but persevere.

Making the work for this exhibition began with observing how fabrics interact with the body. My process involved having models pose with nylon stretch fabric, pulled across and draped over the body, while being photographed in the natural state of wrapping themselves or being wrapped by me.  I studied these photographs, made sketches of the images and analyzed the fabrics of our everyday life.  My pieces then came to life by rolling out porcelain into thin sheets, which were then placed over supportive material so that I could mold and create the forms by hand. It is a slow process and requires much patience. The clay must be able to stretch and give, yet be at a certain dryness to hold its form.  Once completed the pieces needed to slowly dry over the course of four to seven days to reach their final bone dry state before firing. Sanding and smoothing out of the surface was essential to emphasize the softness and appearance of fabric. The pieces were bisque fired in an electric kiln, and then fired a second time in a gas reduction kiln reaching 2300 degrees. The fired porcelain is left in its natural state, avoiding any glazes or colors that may distract from the forms.