Walter McConnell is best known for his unfired clay installations. Sealed in terrarium-like enclosures, his work addresses the relationship between nature and culture. For the Bellevue Arts Museum McConnell will create an ambitious new installation modeled on a recent project, Of Fable and Facsimile, which featured a sculptural, inter-generational portrait of the artist, his father, and his nephew rendered in fresh clay. McConnell’s earthen forms—sustained momentarily in their fictional landscapes—appear fragile and ghostly, positing impermanence as the inevitable condition of natural systems. Indeed, due to the changing nature of the raw material, the works will slowly transform throughout the course of the exhibition.
The figures in the installations are digitally scanned and prototyped from live models. A full-body scanner, housed in the School of Human Ecology at Cornell University, produces the data files, which are CNC milled or 3D printed; from these, plaster molds are made. The figures in the installation are terracotta clays, cast and pulled from these molds. Itinerant Edens offers a look at intersections between analogue and digital processes in the service of art, illustrated through the device of the human figure.
McConnell's work has been widely exhibited internationally and in venues across the US, including Denver Art Museum, MassMoca, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.