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Caito Stewart
Brooklyn, NY



ARTIST STATEMENT: I create sculptural reliquaries and memorials of ruins and food, inspired by elements of my past. Casting keys and door knobs in transparent resin, I bestow them with an ephemeral quality. Bricks are hand-built in clay and bananas cast in plaster, both painted to look real. I replicate and exert my control over these domestic objects, removing their functions, enacting boundaries, and containing them in boxes. I exaggerate certain qualities or amounts, and freeze them in a state of half-decay or disappearance. These uncanny alterations echo the fluidity of memory, the discomfort of accepting loss, and my need to assert control over my own narrative. My art practice is informed by my research in the psychological effects of grief on our mental health and how our coping mechanisms affect our personal relationships. Expressions of grief and acts of preservation like mine often come into conflict with the coping mechanisms of others that lean towards erasure and repression. I see this play out on a macro level within American society, and a micro level within families. Overt expressions of emotion, especially grief, are often suppressed and relegated to the realm of women, who have long performed the family emotional labor in private. The task of preserving my own family history, heirlooms, and mementos has fallen to me. While performing this duty, I have uncovered the inherent power in my role. I appreciate the potent, symbolic role that physical objects play in the grief process, helping me untangle my identity and preserve my memories. To gain a richer understanding of the functions that physical objects and commemorative actions play in my own grief and art work, I am researching ways that people memorialize their dead through funeral practices, tombstones, ash scattering, reliquaries, roadside memorials, and ghost bikes. Through my practice I encourage viewers to unlearn the shame we are taught to feel around our inherent need to share and express sadness, anger, and grief. By engaging in open dialog about loss within the contemporary art world, I seek to erode the unspoken taboo around public expressions of grief that hinders healing and intensifies isolation. Grief is both personal and universal, and sharing it fosters empathy, connection, and community.
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  • Hearth Failure
    2019
    Ceramic
    18.5” x 48” x 3.5”

  • Hearth Failure
    2019
    Ceramic
    18.5” x 48” x 3.5”

  • Welcome Home
    2019
    Cast resin, hand-ground charcoal dust, wall
    80” x 36” x 19”

  • Welcome Home (detail)
    2019
    Cast resin, hand-ground charcoal dust, wall
    80” x 36” x 19”

  • Welcome Home (detail)
    2019
    Cast resin, hand-ground charcoal dust, wall
    80” x 36” x 19”

  • Specter of a Key
    2019
    Cast resin
    2” x 1” x 1/16”

  • I Hoard Mementos, and You Hoard Bananas
    2019
    Cast plaster, paint, epoxy, cabinet, banana hangers
    37" x 24" x 9"

  • I Hoard Mementos, and You Hoard Bananas (detail)
    2019
    Cast plaster, paint, epoxy, cabinet, banana hangers
    37" x 24" x 9"
 








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