Artists and magicians have a few things in common—they put on shows, they rarely reveal their secrets, and they both can engage in stupefying transfigurations, taking one thing and turning it into something completely different. Toronto-based artist, Kaley Flowers, transforms the ephemera of the internet into permanent and lasting ceramic works of art.
Flowers’s ceramic work started at the Ontario College of Art and Design. After taking a class in ceramics, she chose to work in the medium for her thesis and attempted to “personify a deity of the internet,” she tells The Creators Project. For the project, she created five 40-inch tall ceramic sculptures, cataloging the different veins of the internet in much the same way as an anthropologist would categorize society.
For her, the internet is a society that merits documentation, on the same level of worth as pre-Columbian artifacts. Flowers’s influences may seem disparate—she cites the folk art of Mexico’s Zapotec people and the digital art of Instagram in the same breath—but she manages to create a seamless blend between the two in her work.
“I take it all in,” Flowers says. “That’s what influences me: Everything I see.”
At first glance, it can be difficult to decipher Flowers’s influences. The shapes she uses become a sort of ceramic Rorschach test for the viewer. The pieces may appear as blobs or animals or humans, depending on point of view. Flowers says that some have likened her work to the French cartoon Barbapapa or called them “unidentifiable quadripads.”
“I haven’t come up with a name for them yet,” Flowers offers. “It’s hard to articulate. I just started doing them.”
The icons caught the attention of Ambar Navarro, with whom Flowers had developed a cyber friendship with on Tumblr. Navarro reached out and asked Flowers if she would like to collaborate, sparking an entirely new series for Flowers. The series, entitled L1nk Up, sees Flowers collaborating with non-clay artists whom she has only met on the internet. Collaborators like Art Baby Girl (Grace Miceli), Aleia Murawski, and Alex Wallbaum send Flowers images, which she then turns into decals and superimposes onto her forms.
The collaborations are completed in the most internet way possible—Flowers says that she has never Skyped with any of the other artists with whom she collaborates. She instead uses their images and internet personality to create her magic-tinged pieces: “I’m really interested in using the internet as a tool to make a physical thing."
Her work will be featured in Toronto Design Week in January 2017 and at a solo installation in Toronto’s Artscape Youngplace in March. To see more from Kaley Flowers, visit her Instagram, or shop her work—which includes USB drives, incense burners, and spice shakers—on her Big Cartel page, here.