Tue, May 11|
einfühlung: feeling into
Artist in Residence Teresa Dorey’s sculpture explores the act of projecting oneself into an object, body or environment: show in gallery and live online special recognition to the Canada Council of the Arts for funding this project.
Time & Location
May 11, 2021, 11:00 a.m. – May 22, 2021, 9:00 a.m.
Nanaimo, 140 Wallace St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5B1, Canada
About the Event
Gallery hours 11-5 tue to sat or vist the virtual tour
In our daily exchanges, we often speak of emotion in terms of touch and movement. We say “that is so touching,” or, “this moved me to tears,” to describe our affective responses to events and objects which mark our lives. Through this language, we collectively acknowledge the entanglement of our physical and emotional worlds. At the same time, touch and movement are generally understood as relational experiences, shaped by our individual circumstances and personal histories. With this in mind, the question of how these ambiguous metaphors have come to serve as universally-accepted shorthand when speaking about our feelings emerges.
One explanation for this could be empathy. Empathy is perhaps best defined through its etymological origin, the German einfühlung, which in its essence, translates as the act of feeling into. Commonly, einfühlung appears as a verb. It is something we do, rather than a quality we possess. With this in mind, the ways in which we empathize (or, how we feel into) strengthen the roots of our relationships: with one another, as well as the non-human flora and fauna who inhabit the Earth alongside us.
Teresa Dorey’s ceramics are punctuated by her perennial interest in how our emotional and physical selves converge at, and are shaped through, our encounters in our daily routines. This interplay takes a variety of forms, from the way digital screens alter our vision to the way our conversations can orient our body language and facial expressions. The multifaceted nature of these interactions is reflected in the biomorphic ambiguity of her work, which takes into account the way bodies perceive and respond to multiple stimuli simultaneously. One body of work extending this line of thinking is Haptic Sculptures (2018-ongoing), a series of modular sculptures crafted to be embraced and provide somatic comfort. Reactivated over the course of Dorey’s time in Nanaimo, the project takes on a new significance as the prolonged urgency of the pandemic and the culture of social distancing it requires has left many yearning for the solace of personal touch.
Over the past few months of her residency at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts, Dorey has paid careful attention to her surroundings. Certain elements of which permeate her recent works. Textures of the island, including pumice-like surfaces and forms resembling algae, are translated from the landscape into the gallery through her inquisitive experimentation with glazes. Sea glass from nearby shorelines and found marbles serve as unlikely materials to finish her pieces. Brought together, the material and formal fragments from Dorey’s direct environment fill her work with an uncanny sense of familiarity and belonging. While the porosity of some sculptures have an alien quality to them, the soft organicism of their construction reminds us of the infinite biodiversity we find on our own planet. Dorey’s work incorporates aspects of her social surroundings as well. Paper napkins from continuous handwashing at the studio have been added to recycled clay to reinforce its body, and locally-foraged clays she was given by studio members can be seen in her recent works. Dorey’s choice to repurpose such ephemera resonates with the cyclical nature of ceramics itself, as clay is one of the rare mediums in which artists are free to break, prod, spin, and reimagine their material as they see fit. Bridging together these elements, works in the exhibition bring our awareness to the unexpected connections we encounter when we open up our senses, or perhaps feel into, our social and natural landscapes.
On the car ride home, I am thinking about a sculpture in Teresa Dorey’s studio. The work in question sits on three robust limbs, which blend together at the center to form a strong, singular trunk, continuing upward towards the ceiling. I recall how each limb seemed to ripple, smooth and chubby. For me at least, it is rare to encounter an artwork that reminds you so viscerally of your own infant body; not a direct likeness, to be sure, but nevertheless inscribed with a texture so familiar to the composition of muscles, flesh, and fat that developed underneath my young skin. Suspended in the middle of the sculpture (the ‘torso’, if you’ll indulge me) is a small window, modestly proposing an alternate perspective. I think of how, as I bent down to peer through it, I suddenly became aware of my body, its geometry, desires, and especially, its memories.
This scene cycles through my thoughts like clothes in the dryer.
text by Danica Pinteric
beneath this moon
once i read if you give a toddler an egg,
they will know to be gentle
without reason or language,
their tiny hands will open
to cradle around it
yours would do the same
with any empty whelk shell
on any shore
without signal or instruction,
it would grow warm
in your coiled palm
beneath this moon,
fawns dream in the valley
tin pots tremble in the forest
beneath this moon,
dogs howl with the sirens,
ferns unfurl into themselves
fresh roots sink through retired tunnels
poem by Danica Pinteric
Teresa Dorey (BFA Concordia University 2018) is an interdisciplinary artist based in Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. Her practice involves understanding the body through haptics and intimate interactions with objects, materiality, and research. Dorey has participated in residencies, and been published and exhibited across Canada. She has been the recipient of various grants, most recently from Canada Council for the Arts. http://www.teresadorey.ca/