Innovation and Change: Great Ceramics from the Arizona State University Art Museum. 2008

Image Right with Text
Yield Resist. 2000. Ceramic, stainless steel. 46.5 x 18 x 23". Catalog image from INNOVATION AND CHANGE: Great Ceramics from the Arizona State University Art Museum Collection. Darrin Hallowell

b. 1969, American
Yield - Resist
Earthenware, stains, metal
46 1/2 x 18 x 23 in.

How to enter the presence of this kneeling figure without feeling an aching compassion for the human condition, for the torn and beaten-down flesh and bone that is, at once, so doggedly tough and so pathetically vulnerable? Fragmented, headless, its ceramic hide gnarled, this gestural sculpture exudes animality—man as "beast of burden." Man forced to his knees. Man left with but one choice: either to yield or to resist.

Artist Darrin Hallowell began his career as a painter and sculptor with a strong and abiding affinity for the figure. A 1993 Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Hallowell has moved fluidly among media, pressing into service very nearly anything to convey an idea, including his own blood.

"Years ago," he explains, "I viewed images of ancient cave paintings in France, some no more than simple handprints, and was struck by how powerful and successful these simple figurative representations were. It reinforced my belief that the most important artwork relies on its ability to convey a basic impression of the human condition, and to portray the patterns of human existence that are repeated over time."

To fabricate Yield-Resist Hallowell turned to clay and stainless steel. "Specifically I was interested in the transformation of materials through the working process and trying to keep these processes apparent for the viewer in the finished work." The artist formulated a zero-shrinkage clay body, press-molded the sculpture in sections, and pit-fired the whole. "The transformation of the material through fire," he points out, "is evident on the surface of the finished piece as is the interior steel supporting structure and parting lines of the mold process. I see this physical history of the creation process as a parallel to the implied conceptual history of the piece."

Hallowell is one of the youngest artists represented in the collection, a maverick who has wrung from the clay a primal force so palpable one can almost hear it moan.