Makers' voices : four themes for material literacy in contemporary sculpture

Barrett, Ellie (2020) Makers' voices : four themes for material literacy in contemporary sculpture. Journal of Visual Art Practice, 19 (4). pp. 351-372. ISSN 1470-2029

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Material has come to be acknowledged as an important source of political and social meaning due to recent philosophical debates concerning “material agency” (Gell 1998; Latour 2005; Coole and Frost 2010; Bennett 2010; Behar 2016). This has clear implications for art: it explores the effects material has on human behaviour and vice versa. In contrast, art criticism commonly positions material as secondary to metaphysical interpretation. Critics such as Krauss (1979) and Lippard (1997; Lippard and Chandler 2015) avoid analysing material’s multiple sources of information. As a result, we as viewers are ill-equipped to examine the meanings it embodies. This paper presents sculpture as an appropriate framework from which to engage with this problem, as it remains a discipline which creatively explores material in three-dimensional space (Tucker 1981). Four themes have been developed from the analysis of qualitative interviews carried out with eight emerging UK sculptors in order to work towards “material literacy” (Lehmann 2016) in contemporary art practice.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Visual Art Practice
Additional Information:
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of Visual Art Practice on 20 Nov 2020, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? sculpturematerialagencyliteracypracticemeaningvisual arts and performing arts ??
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Deposited On:
30 Oct 2020 16:45
Last Modified:
15 Jan 2024 00:18