All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Meredith Dittmar

Intricate clay sculptures explore nature, physics, ancient architecture and more

by Josh Rubin
on 26 May 2010
MDittmar-7.jpgArtist Meredith Dittmar uses polymer clay and wire to deconstruct the human experience in colorful bas relief. Starting with mostly historic and scientific inspirations—The Hadron Collider, Aztec architecture, pixelation and integral theory among them—the Portland, OR-based sculptor creates mounted 3-D scenes of strange animals and otherworldly landscapes. Besides a variety of clays, Dittmar works with plexiglass, spray paint and resins, using fiberglass for larger pieces.

In an interview with Fecal Face (which also has some great images of her studio and process), Dittmar said of her work, "Typically I collect images, diagrams, math and words and surround myself with them before I begin a set of pieces—though once I start working, I only refer to them rarely. I throw it all into the brain blender and see what comes out."

Often featuring long, giraffe-like animals, seals, otters and other transported animals, the creatures cuddle, smile and nuzzle. Grown-up versions tend to be darker, but retain a signature soft warmth, like in the piece (pictured below) depicting a female animal pierced by an abstract force of industry.

MDittmar-8.jpg

Sometimes cut open or dismembered to reveal some deeper, unfathomable anatomy, Dittmar bypasses the gore, leaving out blood, painful gashes or any other explicit violence. Even these sadly languid creatures emanate a peaceful quiet that, along with the painstaking symmetry so prevalent in the work, make her worlds comforting even when they're painful.

Her choice of material also contributes to this comforting aspect of her work. Polymer's puffy look and lack of sharp edges help Dittmar transport us, pushing the medium beyond traditional uses (made famous by Wallace and Gromit). This is, perhaps, the pervading theme of Dittmar's work. Even as the clay bends into fantastical, extreme creatures and scenes, the emotions they uncover are delicate, subtle and intangible.

Dittmar also makes two- to three-inch creatures called "My Guys" that she sells (starting at $16) Dot Dot Dash."

MDittmar-6.jpg

Her multi-pronged approach to art has also led to several film and advertorial projects. An ad for Converse featured her work in the background, but several short animations for animation studio Fashion Buddha that will be played at Umpqua Bank are the real triumph. Aaron Sturgeon, a 3-D artist, copied Dittmar's creatures, right down to the fingerprints, to recreate as much of the original spirit as possible into the digitized version.

MDittmar-19.jpg

Dittmar's work also attracted the eye of Brit lingerie line Freya, who commissioned her to create backdrops. FiftyFiveDSL got in on the action too and invited her to design a limited edition T-Shirt for their Spring/Summer 2009 Black Series.

Beside her mounted Polymer pieces, Dittmar created elaborate, light-up scenes that turn the already supernatural work atmospheric. (Pictured above.) These, made in collaboration with artists Emily Gobeille and Theodore Watson, were part of an interactive installation Biome at The Riviera gallery in Brooklyn.

Other exhibitions span the globe, including The Meta Perspective in Mexico City, The Evolution of Psychepolymereganics in Portland and Istanbul's Grey Area. She will have two new shows later this year. First, in August Dittmar will show at Alphonse Berber Gallery in Berkeley. In December, the SF MoMA gallery in Fort Mason will exhibit her work.

Selected works sell from NYC's Jonathan Levine gallery, and you can check out larger images after the jump and see more in the gallery below.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves
Loading More...