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Artist Statement - Andi Moran

There are artists whose interests are about form; there are artists who express ideas; there are artists who reveal secrets. I am all three.

At the age of seven, I experienced trauma that followed with periods of depression from that time onward. Growing up, I did not address my internal distress. One of the ways I blocked out my pain was to stay busy using my hands. I always found peace in making art. I could get lost in the process and forget me. I continued a path in art all the way through college, where I graduated in fine arts. After graduation, I married my college sweetheart. Several years into our marriage we founded our studio “Objects”. My husband split his time between teaching at the university and making sculptural pieces in the studio; I worked full-time in the studio exclusively in ceramics. As a young adult, I continued to repress my childhood pain. As a young artist, the inspiration for my art was my love for nature and tribal artifacts.

I never ventured into my mental landscape of anguish and suffering for creative ideas. That was not safe territory. Things began to fall apart after the birth of our son. I plunged into a deep depression with suicidal tendencies. Overwhelmed with despair, I checked myself into a psychiatric hospital. Thus, began a journey into my dark interior. Much to my dismay, that interior was more disturbing than I thought. I was diagnosed with a personality disorder, (the most difficult to heal): borderline personality disorder. After my hospitalization, I found a psychiatrist who specialized in personality disorders. I was given two options of treatment: around three years to learn and incorporate new coping skills; or at least five years to work towards healing. I chose healing. For the next six years I lived a socially secluded lifestyle. My personal relationships were narrowed down to my husband, son, male psychiatrist and female psychologist. I was completely focused on the process of stripping away, re-building and being, therapeutically, re-parented. During this time I continued to work in the studio making ceramic pieces.

I needed an activity that provided relief from the mental and emotional intensity in my life. These pieces still reflected my personal interests, but were becoming larger in scale and formally more complicated. Life organically transitioned from structured therapy into my own personal process of self-observation, self-reflection and self-questioning. As an artist, I was no longer content in making work that referenced back to plants, insects and artifacts. I was fascinated with mental development and mental illness. My sketchbook became full of ideas and potential pieces that were heavily influenced by psychology: childhood scripting, belief systems, defense mechanisms, mental baggage, fear, and shame. My work shifted from the concrete to the expression of psychological issues; from singular pieces to installations; from exclusively clay to incorporating other materials.

My first installation, “Rattles of Defense” (later renamed “Implement Series”), dealt with the contradiction between my fear of intimacy but my simultaneous need for it; that push/pull dance between desiring intimacy and, simultaneously, repelling intimacy. The outer forms of the implements were based upon ancient tribal bludgeoning weapons. The dangerous imagery was meant to symbolize my fear and resistance to intimacy. But to encourage intimacy, I inserted ceramic pellets into the interior of each implement encouraging one to grasp, handle, shake them – an invitation to intimacy.

My next installation, “Psychic Baggage”, was technically my most challenging. Conceptually, this installation was about the mental/ emotional baggage we hold onto that obstructs our having more intimate and authentic relationships. That “baggage” represents our uninvestigated, limiting stories and our fear-based misperceptions. Though these installations were expressing more intimate issues, issues that were mine as well as universal, I still harbored secrets. I was still hiding.

As my self-exploration continued, I began turning towards Buddhism. Having come from a Christian background, I found Buddhism to be refreshing and, actually, to beautifully interlace with Christianity. Both Christian and Buddhist teachings speak of being free, and a mental state of freedom was what I longed for. I was tired of trying to present an unflawed persona. A persona that hid my shame; a persona I thought necessary for me to be acceptable. I felt disconnected from myself and to the world around me. For things to change, I had to begin letting go of my most dreaded childhood fears. I had to open up what I kept locked under for decades. Artistically, this entailed work that no longer avoided my secrets; my secrets would become my subjects.

My first step in that direction resulted in the installation “Fragmentation”, where I exposed my deepest thoughts and emotions however raw, shocking or sad. The writings reflected my being in moments of time. All, but one, were written decades earlier when I was in therapy. My main medium of clay, no longer center stage, became integrated with fabric, metal and dirt. The art work, like buttresses on a building, supported the message. My mental armor was no longer shielding me; my defense mechanisms, dismantled. I was unmasked; I was exposing “my ugliness”.

This installation bares my soul; it is autobiographical, it is honest, it is freeing. This is the place I will continue to create from. My desire, for the observer, is to look inward and explore his/her interior space; an exploration that will, hopefully, reveal discoveries that will foster his/her growth.