Sculptor Calvin Ma channels his experience of social anxiety into imaginative ceramic sculptures that fuse human characters with birds. The avian elements act as suits of armor, protecting the person from the outside world, and reflect Ma’s personality in fight or flight situations. Carefully articulated feathers cover the surface of each sculpture, from the mask-like bird headdresses to the arms and torso of the humanoid figure. In previous bodies of work, the artist has used houses as his metaphor with walls, windows, and chimneys forming the protective outer shell of each sculpture.
“I never really felt comfortable in my own skin in social settings, so I created these characters to help tell stories about it,” Ma tells Colossal. “Each piece is meant to act out a specific social anxiety related experience. I try not to get too dark or serious with the work and really try to have fun with it.”
The Bay Area-based artist has a two-person show with Erika Sanada (who is also married to Ma) at Sherrie Gallerie in Columbus, Ohio from July 28 to September 3, 2019, and a solo exhibition at Antler Gallery in Portland, Oregon opening on November 28. Alongside these shows, Ma will also be sharing pieces in at SOFA Expo in Chicago and at Haven Gallery in Long Island, in late October and mid-December, respectively. You can explore more of the artist’s sculptures on Instagram.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member and support independent arts publishing. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, help support our interview series, gain access to partner discounts, and much more. Join now!