The works in this exhibition consist of several arrangements of large-scale, freestanding painted ceramic sculptures of animals, bones and objects that DeRocchi associates with sex, death or expectations through memories of personal experiences during her time in Alaska.
Among her larger works is one titled “Unknown, Backbone,” a piece representing part of a spine of an unknown animal, perhaps a prehistoric creature or a whale. It is displayed on a long, wooden cart on wheels that holds four large ceramic vertebrae.
Another piece, “Rider: The Dead Wolf,” is a large-scale still life installation inspired by Jean Baptiste-Oudry’s painting, The Dead Wolf. A centerpiece for the exhibition, the work is displayed on a 10-foot-by-four-foot, steel-framed, plywood table, which sits above a ceramic sculpture of a dead wolf, an erect cactus reaching for a flaccid cactus, and a seal-gut harpoon. Ceramic objects on the table include oysters, a lamp, motorcycle parts, peaches, a Mimbres bowl, large jawbone, various bones, a deer head and a bottle of bourbon.
DeRocchi says she is influenced by museum displays of artifacts and taxidermy dioramas, which inspire her to create narratives through observation and speculation. For her, the objects she creates represent significant memories and experiences removed from her daily life.
Alanna DeRocchi – Collection: Sex, Death and Expectation is presented as part of the Patricia B. Wolf Solo Exhibition Series, with support from the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Anchorage Museum Foundation’s Alaska Airlines Silver Anniversary Fund.
About the artist
Originally from Petersburg, Illinois, DeRocchi currently works as a ceramics instructor at the University of Alaska Anchorage. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts from Western Illinois University and a Master’s degree in Fine Arts from New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. She has exhibited in numerous museums and galleries across the US and internationally.
As a maker, my career has led me to often question how we interpret and give value to the objects we encounter. They can provide education, comfort, or a means of personal expression. My own ceramic work is presented to bring attention to how my subjects exist as objects, despite their animal, landscape, or domestic subject matter.
I look to museum displays of artifacts and taxidermy dioramas for influence on creating a narrative through observation and speculation. Museum collections offer a reflection on the past and allow us to make connections to our own current behaviors and beliefs. This organization of artifacts and objects gives new life to such material things. In a way, it saves them from the tragedy of being forgotten. Taxidermy can also convey this, in animals that are no longer sentient beings, but objects. Yet through this, they somehow remain physical—their story lives on. I like to think that the animals and objects I create can become part of a much larger story to tell, one with a meaning that is also open for interpretation. Each object I create represents a memory or a significant experience that is no longer tangible in my everyday life.
In four short years of living in Alaska, I have experienced some of the most inspiring and formative moments in my life thus far, which I could not have discovered elsewhere. This exhibition documents these experiences surrounding loneliness, death and loss, expectations of relationships and sex, and the mundane. Each piece serves as a record of a particular person, place, or thing that has captured emotion and helped shape my identity.