Artist Anina Major talks about how she turned glass into teeth, built a floor-to-ceiling spine, and how she sources sustainable material.
What do you use to make your sculptures?
I work with traditional materials such as clay, glass and metal. To save costs, I source them in large quantities from manufacturers. For example, I purchase clay in quantities of 400 pounds or more. These materials don’t expire and are recyclable, so I am able to reuse them.
What other tools do you use when you’re sculpting?
Beside the main tools needed to work with clay, such as a kiln, I mostly use my hands to pinch, coil and form shapes with the material.
Artists working with glass may use tools made of graphite, the way an artist who works with wood uses a hammer.
How do you put your sculptures together?
It depends on the project. For a large sculpture, I may have to build it in parts, that can be assembled after firing in a kiln.
This was my approach when creating Bessie’s Backbone, a large vertebrae piece that stems from the floor to the ceiling, with over 100 parts balanced on top of each other.
You used glass to sculpt ‘Wisdom Teeth.’ Why did you choose that material?
I chose glass because of its delicacy, transparency and sustainability. The casting method I used to create these pieces mimics the act of extracting teeth. I slowly pulled and formed each piece, simulating the pain of having teeth removed.
First, I put a mixture of sand and Bentonite (a type of clay) on a graphite slab, and made an impression in the sand using an old coconut. Then, I poured hot molten glass into the imprint left by the coconut on top of the sand. Then I carefully lifted the glass from the sand and put it in an annealer (a glass kiln) to cool.
Would the effect of ‘Wisdom Teeth’ have been different if you had used a different material?
Yes, I believe it would. Glass is the perfect medium to illustrate delicacy, transparency and longevity simultaneously. The transparency and longevity is equally important in the material, as it is in the meaning behind the work. The longevity of this work acts in resistance to erasure and invisibility of our histories as post-colonial people.
Materials have a history that you can’t ignore when creating a sculpture. For example, the metal cage used in To Have And Not To Own, references a medieval time period in the way that it mimics netting.
What advice can you give to artists who are starting out with sculpture?
Continue to challenge your knowledge base by researching new topics, and push your materials' boudnaries by trying a new technique.
You can see the We Suffer to Remain exhibition at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas from 22 March to 29 July 2018.