Walter McConnell is best known for his unfired ceramic installations and assemblages of popular ceramic trinkets into totems to a former society cast in a post apocalyptic setting. McConnell is a Associate Professor of Ceramic Art at the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, in Alfred, New York.
Walters raw clay assemblages require a vapor barrier to surround his artwork so that it remains in stasis, never drying completely, but it also lends a layer of meaning and a visual effect as the moisture accumulates on the plastic sheeting. Placing his sculptures in a dark room emphasizes the spotlight shining down from above, casting the piece in a dramatic chiaroscuro that plays with the ephemeral atmosphere literally contained by the draped film. Approaching them would allow an audience to peer closer at the figures, flower shapes, and sea forms, creating a palpable tension from the sense that these objects cannot safely enter our space or we theirs.
His themes orbit christian creation stories like Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. At times the unfired terra cotta is accompanied by a stack of slip cast hobby mould items, a stark contrast in seriousness and workmanship. They produce a dichotomy that pulls you back from the tranquil scenes into the busy noise of overused imagery that generally clouds and obscures the world around us. I feel like he is showing us a possibility and the stumbling block that lies in our path to an idyllic existence, the separation made by the plastic sheeting is mere millimeters in width but we either don’t have the strength yet to cross the threshold or hunker in fear at the trepidation to rent the film and inhale the ether within.