Is your ass happy? Well, the asses created by Anastasia Chernoff are. To transcend typical communicative methods, the sculptor employs portions of the human anatomy to convey characteristics and emotions; hence, the happy derriere and the countless sentiments found in a finger’s gesture. The way Anastasia sees it, there is beauty in the booty. And amid her compilation of derrieres and other porcelain body parts are come hither hints in finger curls as well as scores of point making index fingers.
It is said that body language accounts for more than half of an intended message, with spoken language measuring only about ten percent. Soulfully in tune with this communication technique, Anastasia is a master at interpreting emotion and consequently creates physical representations of that elucidation. According to Anastasia, “everyone is beautiful in their own right and you can look into their eyes to see what’s going on beneath the surface.” Her sensual and suggestive pieces are sometimes overwhelmingly provocative in detail and purpose, but at the same time resonate with her own whimsical charm and charisma. Some of these same complex appendages, with all their suggestive allure, also manage to provide a definitive functionality by holding a purse or bath robe on the wall. These pieces are classified (deservedly so) as functional art.
Undoubtedly, Anastasia’s abstract media is suitable for any environment and is certainly the result of endless musings on the human spirit and how it is unconsciously conveyed.
As an only child in the protective shadow of an independent mother and absent but very much visionary father, Anastasia affirms that at an early age she possessed an intrinsic magic of sorts, but failed to fully realize this potential until a trip abroad to Botswana and South Africa. Inspired by local artisans and their work in concrete, Anastasia returned home to Columbia profoundly motivated to pursue her interest in this medium. She embarked on a self-taught journey that led her into a perpetual metamorphosis.
According to Anastasia, porcelain is undeniably feminine.
I personify porcelain as a woman, because that’s what is most relatable to me, and, when I’m working with it, I feel that I become it. Or, shall I say, it becomes me? Or, we become each other? The process begins with the basic element of pure, unadulterated porcelain. She (the medium) is embraced and celebrated as she begins her existence. All my contact with her is both genuine and liberating. Knowing that if I want her to be receptive, she must be caressed and not hurried as she does not respond well to force. Life lends itself to her presence as she advances in maturity. In youth, she remains quite fragile, but maintains her solid foundation. At this point I must be especially mindful of outside pressures. If I am too aggressive she will no doubt crack or show some other symptom of stress. Applying undue strain could easily fracture her spirit and in worst cases, she might even experience a break down. With consideration and time, her essence can be restored, but she never forgets. No matter what I may try to do to compensate for what may seem like an error … porcelain has a memory that never, ever forgets.
Eventually the moment arrives, and it’s time to let go. After periods of prodding, manipulating, and rediscovering who she is, it’s time for me to say goodbye to her. I trust that I have made the right impressions while consciously impacting her being. The next stage in her evolution can be painful. She is no longer connected to me, she is on her own. Life’s kiln is dangerous and sometimes painful but full of lessons to be learned. She will be tested and her survival will depend on what I have instilled within her. I watch her fade away. I wait, observe and occasionally even inspect, knowing that even I have lost the ability to influence her, never to have any impact on her form again. Eventually she emerges. She is marked only by her own experiences now. She has proven resilient, withstood the intensity and is no longer affected by minor strains. She is refined and complete. I recognize that she has felt the heat and because of it, become rather arduous. Content-wise though, I appreciate her strength. After a lifetime of this process I know that the higher I fire her, the stronger she becomes.
Following her commencement into a new world, as an inanimate debutante of sorts, she is now “available.” A stranger happens by and admires my phenomenal and very personal creation. He marvels, I question. He wants to take her for his own. I question. She wins his heart, he wins mine and in an instant, she is gone forever. More than anything, I hope she takes a part of me with her, as she is completely interwoven into my very fiber. Time passes, the dust settles and I begin again.
Anastasia readily admits that she becomes quite emotionally involved in her work, often “seeing nuances of her friends within the pieces” and revealing that her everyday life is somehow manifested into every one of them. She even talks to them as she sculpts them into being and kisses them goodbye before they enter the kiln. At times however, the “passing on” in this particular relationship can sometimes seem like chaos and madness, occasionally resulting in a kiln explosion which consequently destroys the piece. To most, this would seem devastating, but to Anastasia, “every aspect of the journey is important, whether the piece survives or not, because, in the process, I’ve had an emotional release and learned something both about my medium and myself.” And in true Anastasia form, even this seeming disaster “is measured as yet as another life lesson,” which is greeted with acceptance and understanding. In the end, however, she is always pleased to see them go regardless of the outcome because, “at that point my journey with them is complete.”