Artist Christina West sculpts eroded portraits of anonymous faces which reveal colorful patches existing just below the surface. Segments of the subject’s face are worn away or chopped off, focusing the viewer’s attention on the layered interior of the busts, rather than their exterior features. The work is an investigation into the complexity of one’s own interiority, and suggests that what lies within is more important than surface-level aesthetics.
“I use the portrait bust format because I’m interested in the expectation we place on portraiture to reveal something about an individual’s interiority,” explains West in an artist statement. “I have always felt that making inferences about a person’s psychology or personality from physical likeness is a highly flawed practice, though we make such inferences instinctively. In the Unmet series, I create portrait busts that disrupt the impulse to read into facial features or expression by removing much of the figure’s likeness.”
The busts are each solid casts, with multiple colors layered in the interior. The removal of specific facial elements happens after the objects are cast, when West excavates swatches of color in unpredictable patterns. The Atlanta-based sculptor has an upcoming exhibition at the Mattress Factory in Pittsburgh from September 21, 2018 to April 8, 2019 as a part of her residency at the institution. You can see more of her sculptural portraits on her website and Instagram.