Linda Sormin, a professor of ceramic art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, came to Hamilton as part of The Visiting Artist Series on Feb. 20.
Her ceramic works have been on display at Entrée Gallery (Bergen, Norway), Wu Changshuo Memorial Hall (Shanghai, China), and Bluecoat Art Gallery (Liverpool, UK).
Sormin was born in Thailand and Laos and then moved to Canada at the age of five. She later returned to her birthplace as an adult where she worked in community development for four years.
That sense of needing to belong is so central to the human experience. I want that to be alive in the work.
Moving between different countries and interacting with different cultural groups influenced how she made her ceramics. “The idea of a melting pot [in Canada] is prevalent there, it’s more of the idea of a mosaic, different parts coming together that continue to be questionable, sometimes not always fitting together so neatly,” Sormin said. “That sense of needing to belong is so central to the human experience. I want that to be alive in the work.”
Sormin wants to fight back against the idea that artwork and humanity have to work in unison. “As we know, humans aren’t always like that. The idea of tension and breaks and arguments and tension being part of the way we interact as humans, I want that to be felt in this space.”
For her piece, Strange Feeling, she was inspired by a conversation with her father regarding his family being placed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. When she asked him about his experience, he said, “Well, it was a strange feeling.”
Through abstraction, she captured her father’s feelings that can’t be put into words. “I’m troubled by the modes of abstraction. But there seems to be no other way to get this clustered, clawed, fragile, breakable reality out physically into the world.”
Sam Wilkerson ’22 came to the presentation as part of her ceramics class. She was fascinated by the process that Sormin uses to create her art.
“She comments on the fragility and artwork as being something that should be preserved,” said Wilkerson. “But she’s destroying it to comment on the different meaning between motion and creating art.”
Sormin will continue to explore the limits of not only expression, but of ceramics itself. “The vulnerability of ceramics, is something that I continue to explore and reflect on,” said Sormin. “I want to incorporate the vulnerability that we experience in this world and the realities that we deal with.”