Witness the wet dead snake,
its long hexagonal pattern weaved
around its body like a code for creation,
curled up cold on the newly tarred road.
Let us begin with the snake: the fact
of death, the poverty of place, of skin
and surface. See how the snake is cut
in two—its body divided from its brain.
Imagine now, how it moves still, both
sides, the tail dancing, the head dancing.
Believe it is the mother and the father.
Believe it is the mouth and the words.
Believe it is the sin and the sinner—
the tempting, the taking, the apple, the fall,
everyone one of us guilty, the story of us all.
But then return to the snake, poor dead
thing, forcefully denying the split of its being,
longing for life back as a whole, wanting
you to see it for what it is, something
that loves itself so much, it moves across
the boundaries of death, to touch itself
once more, to praise both divided sides
equally, as if it was almost easy.
—Torn by Ada Limón
Bodies—human and non-human—are vessels that bloom, transform, and ultimately perish. Like other fauna and flora, we are mutable, vulnerable, and temporal; our mortality renders us both body and object. How does one grasp the beauty and burden of this shared corporeality, one that feels increasingly under threat? the split of our being is an attempt to make sense of the fascinating and dreadful realization that everything is connected and nothing lasts.
Laxalt’s creative process is intuitive, empathic, haptic, and exploratory. She tenderly imbues her hand-built ceramic sculptures with evocative textures and earthy, fleshy glazes, and she sources lush, visual imagery for her biomorphic works on paper. The sculpted and collaged forms echo one another, suggesting sensual flowers, imaginary organs, corporeal vessels, and elusive creatures.
Every piece she generates is purposefully ambiguous. The intention is to create imagery and objects that appear simultaneously human, animal, and botanical, with qualities that appear to be both evolving and devolving, foreign and familiar, fluid and solid, fertile and barren, alluring and repulsive, pulsing and static.
Installation photography: Jackson Markovic
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Michelle Laxalt is a multidisciplinary artist based in Atlanta, Georgia. She holds a BFA from the University of Nevada, Reno and an MFA from Georgia State University, where she was a Welch Fellow. Laxalt has exhibited nationally and internationally. Select notable venues include the Usak Archaeology Museum (Turkey), the National Center for Contemporary Arts (Minsk, Belarus), the San Angelo Museum of Fine Arts (Texas), the Zuckerman Museum of Art (Kennesaw, GA), MOCA GA (Atlanta), MINT Gallery (Atlanta), and whitespace (Atlanta). She was a 2019 MINT Leap Year Fellow and is currently a Ceramics Assistant at the Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. Laxalt has a forthcoming residency at the Hambidge Center (August 2022), and will present solo exhibitions at Hi-Lo Press (Atlanta, November 2022) and at the Kirk Robertson Gallery at Oats Park Arts Center (Nevada, March 2023).