Artist Beth Cavener creates stunning sculptures that take the form of wild animals but which convey a whole host of human emotion. Her ongoing body of work, titled Animal Body, Human Space, is based on the premise that primitive animal instincts lurk in our own depths, waiting for the chance to slide past a conscious moment.
Cavener explains: "The sculptures I create focus on human psychology, stripped of context and rationalisation, and articulated through animal and human forms. On the surface, these figures are simply feral and domestic individuals suspended in a moment of tension. Beneath the surface, they embody the consequences of human fear, apathy, aggression, and misunderstanding. Both human and animal interactions show patterns of intricate, subliminal gestures that betray intent and motivation."
She works with various tools when she starts to create her sculptures. Dowels and pipes are versatile enough to create a variety of support structures, while large prints and Photoshop help her to envision the finished sculpture while she works.
She adds: "The things we leave unsaid are far more important than the words spoken out-loud to one another. I have learned to read meaning in the subtler signs; a look, the way one holds one’s hands, the incline of the head, and the slightest unconscious gesture. I rely on animal body language in my work as a metaphor for these underlying patterns, transforming the animal subjects into human psychological portraits.
"I want to pry at those uncomfortable, awkward edges between animal and human. Entangled in their own internal and external struggles, the figures express frustration for the human tendency towards cruelty and lack of understanding. Something conscious and knowing is captured in their gestures and expressions. An invitation and a rebuke."