Isabel O'Carroll


To date my work is focused on the physical translation of emotions, particularly death, grief, and nostalgia. I am inspired by the writings of Sylvia Plath and Virgina Woolf, and their thematic symbolism. In this way, I create objects and installations out of materials that are destined to decay. Through the utilization of materials I consider ephemeral, the work is less absolute, and lends to feelings of nostalgia. By using malleable materials like drywall, clay, and wallpaper, I create a physical interpretation of nostalgia. 

Further, the theoretical framework of intersectional feminism connects and guides my research. By allowing things to become ugly, by learning new skills that would’ve been “more suited” to the stereotypical “man’s man”, (i.e. pouring concrete, welding, etc.) I am able to reject the 1950’s sexual politics that come attached to society’s view of the female artist, and adapt that definition into an all encompassing title. 

 Within my practice there is a heavy reliance on experimentation, and how materials record and respond to my touch. The way I pinch, fold, and burn the clay allows for different results than when I apply the same type of making to plaster, rubber, wax, or paper. These differences are beneficial as I am able to utilize my making as a stylistic shift between aesthetics, cultivating a blurred line between the often contradicting elements. Though there is eventually a conceptual importance to how these things turn out, the end result of this making is rarely the point, as I prefer the making to be the point within itself. When experimenting with and applying a similar process to different materials, it becomes more about the relationships I form with each material, rather than the object I inevitably end up with. A piece of that stems from my want to pick up as many skills as I can, and be viewed as an independent, capable, empowered female.