About the Artist
I am obsessed with the predicament of the human form, both its fragility and its dominance in the environment. The son of an immigrant tool and die maker who was permanently paralyzed in an industrial accident, I grew up preoccupied with the notion of wholeness—of body and place. I was trained at a very young age to look carefully at how things work, to steal with my eyes (as my father put it) while poring over the shops and drafting tables of his practice. This tendency toward visual appraisal was undoubtedly honed by seeing my father, as powerful as he was, struggle against the realities of living with half of a functional body. Despite the adaptive equipment, some loss cannot be engineered away.
My current ceramic series investigates the body in a state of ambiguous metamorphosis. Many works are formed by grafting individual parts together in a manner that nods at structural order but disregards anatomical and proportional correctness. Irregular outgrowths in the material signal erratic germination or atrophy—a misfiguration of appendages. The resulting forms are often simultaneously heroic and absurd—they acknowledge the limitations of the body and flout conventional response systems. Where traditional figurative sculpture often captures a predictable motion in time and space, my work changes as the viewer moves around it. What happens on one side might be wholly unanticipated on the other. By working against symmetry, I defy the expectations of wholeness for the body. Drawing on human, animal, and unworldly bodies, the figures precariously gesture, as if even they don’t know what they truly are. Their stilled and puzzled nature is my grasping for truth or a viable system to make things whole.
Arny Nadler was born in 1969 in Chicago. He lives in St. Louis where he is an Associate Professor of Art at the Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University in St. Louis. He chaired undergraduate art from 2013-2018.