Stephanie Kantor

I create installations that focus on culture, hybridity, artifice, decoration, and ornamentation. These environments incorporate a plethora of craft-based traditions including hand built ceramic vessels, tile work, hand embroidered tapestries, wallpaper, carpets, drawings, and plinths. I mentally transport viewers to an alternate space where they are confronted with ideas of cultural hybridity that defy norms. This experience is amplified by the magnitude of visual pleasure, an abundance of objects, handwork, and dense pattern.

In my artwork, I seek to capture the overwhelming nature of experiencing new places and the quiet beauty of local traditions. I am fascinated with cultures that are distant from my own, while keenly aware of the dangers of Orientalism, the potential other-ing and exploitation that may arise from working with foreign cultures. My interest in culture comes from a place of appreciation where I stay open-minded and open-hearted allowing me to focus on the peculiarities of each individual place free of judgement or comparison. I use ornamentation and decoration to create a facade of culture. My objects speak to the fluidity of the world around us by highlighting patterns and forms that blur boundaries and show cultural hybridization. My visual language blends motifs inspired from family traditions with foreign symbols, forms, and aesthetics.

My work is a facade similar to theater sets or props; an acknowledgement to something outside of itself. I often start from historical objects that inspire me and produce work by engaging with certain aspects of these ancient pieces. I am interested in how my imagery is an illusion; a representation of a once real object that now may only exist in the work itself.

My current work is inspired by the Tree of Life motif and ceramic Trees of Life from Mexico. I am intrigued by this far-reaching historical and cultural symbol that can be found throughout sacred spaces, carpets, textiles, sculptures, painting, and literature. It symbolizes immortality, fertility, abundance, and growth. My trees incorporate flora and fauna from the landscape of my childhood home as well as the plants I come across on my daily walks. Each tree centers on a single motif that becomes a self-sustained garden in itself. These objects represent my past, the present, and my ability to create something that could never exist in real life: my own paradise.