Paula Winokur

The vast majority of earth’s glaciers are melting.  As the ice thins, extraordinarily large sections are “calving” (breaking off), further shrinking glacial volume.  Paula Winokur’s minimalist presentation brings the scale, reality, and potential permanence of this massive geological transformation into sharp focus.  Her choice of porcelain – in all its “starkness” – reinforces our straightforward choice: if we wait – for more warning, study, policy – before acting to lessen or prepare for adverse impacts from climate change, will we have crossed a “tipping point” where options dwindle and consequences for our children, their children, and the earth itself become irreversibly catastrophic?  And is that a prudent risk to take?

Paula Winokur
Paula Winokur, Calving Glacier (2010) 33 Porcelain sections. Dimensions: 6’ w x 8’ d ( base ), variable heights to 36”. Collection: Racine Art Museum, Wisconsin. Courtesy of the artist.

Artist’s Statement:

Many pieces I construct relate in a very direct way to places I have visited. For the past few years, my concern about the melting of glaciers all around the globe has informed a new body of work. In Alaska I witnessed a calving of a massive glacier and in Iceland stood at the rim of receding glaciers. I have investigated the scientific explorations of drilling ice cores in the Arctic and the measuring of icebergs as they break from large ice fields. These explorations have led me to believe that our climate is changing much more quickly than expected and the glaciers are melting and receding rapidly. It is my intention, in bringing these pieces into a gallery setting, to remind viewers of what is going on in those areas of the world which most of us do not get a chance to visit and of the impact the loss of glacial ice will have on the planet.

My choice of porcelain was deliberate. The primary clay from which all other clays are derived, porcelain comes from the earth pure white, strong and durable. Transformed by human hands, it can be delicate, fragile, and transparent. In that sense, it resembles glaciers – ancient towering structures made fragile by human action.

Artist’s Website:

Paula Winokur

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