Beth Katleman creates extravagant, obsessively detailed porcelain installations that subvert traditional ideas of the decorative. On closer inspection, the frivolity gives way to a less wholesome narrative.
Folly, with its florid references to 18th century wallpaper, seems to evoke a world of genteel pleasure. Forty-eight porcelain landscapes float off of a polite turquoise wall, embellished with flowers, birds and butterflies. Yet things are not as they seem in this slightly warped Arcadia. The figures, woodland creatures, topiaries and architectural follies that adorn the landscapes are cast from her collection of flea market treasures. Dark humor fills the narratives: an elf rides a colossal snail in the shadow of the Sacre-Coeur Basilica; bridesmaids whisper, oblivious to the baby drowning in the pond; a toothless boy cavorts as a ducklings tumble over a waterfall, and a reindeer answers nature's porcelain call.
Girls at War delves into the dark side of childhood and the blurred lines between innocence and guilt. This triptych takes the form of carved rococo wall paneling. Against a limpid blue background, young girls do battle with calvalrymen, tiny toy soldiers and an errant swan.