Sarah Spencer White’s Spill is a meditation on the human role in technological innovation. Spill is intended to, as White writes, bring to mind ideas of “futility, fragility and dysfunction.” Her creations accomplish just that.
White works with clay, creating ceramic pieces that juxtapose abstract images of the body with forms that reference tools resembling prehistoric technology. Attempting to wed the human element with the mechanical, Spencer references the essential life force that is water in his works. In “Hydropathy,” a series of tubes and spheres are each fitted with perforations that are increasingly larger with each pipe, emphasizing their increasing inability to retain water. In fact, anything could be spilling out of these pieces.
“100 Ways to Spill Water” is the most prominent piece in the exhibit, simply because of its sheer size—50 objects each spread between the two long walls of the gallery, aligned in rows of 10. This piece also exemplifies White’s own interest in exploring the oddities of the mundane. Some objects conjure up images of household items—a miniature bathtub, a baby rattle, a mortar and pestle—but each is rendered unusable or absurd by small perforations or gaping holes. Other knickknacks have more of an anthropomorphic quality, resembling human feet and mouths.
White’s choice of clay as a medium references earthen material, in turn alluding to humans’ symbiotic relationship with water. It is not obvious why there is spilling, but the artist’s message is clear—that which is spilled is most precious. Spill is particularly relevant in light of the recent earthquake in Haiti. Recognizing the shortage of clean water as one of the main risks to survivors, the artist is donating 15 percent of sales to the relief effort. Spill is on display at Golden Belt’s Room 100 in Building 3 until Feb. 14. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.