Mirroring Mortality, Michelle Laxalt’s Exhibit Created a Fragile View of Dead Corpses


Michelle Laxalt is an artist who works a lot with themes of the body and vulnerability. Her exhibit “husk/phantoms/limbs/meuses” which closed Saturday, Nov. 16, was a good representation of the common themes that run through her work. 

Initially, when walking into the gallery, viewers were met with a shocking piece. Human and animal hair on silk strips hang from the ceiling right in the middle of the gallery space. It grabs your attention and gives an overall tone of vulnerability to these unique works right as you enter. 

Michelle Laxalt creates 3D works that can be described as abject or unusual at the very least. Her work consists of abstract ceramic pieces sculpted to have translucent skin qualities. 

Laxalts delivered the raw and powerful theme that humans and animals are very similar. PHOTO / Anna Watson

Because of this, each piece carries a set of unspoken questions.The abstract elements make the viewer want to know exactly what they are looking at, while simultaneously not wanting to know at all.It is crafted like you could touch its surface and be met with real flesh instead of cold, ceramic. It also comes off as delicate. 

Delicate is not the primary instinct when viewing this show, but Laxalt’s work represents a sense of fragility through the cold and delicate leftovers of a corpse, human or not. Leaving a lasting impression regarding the life this dead creature, her work is very detailed featuring veins and bone marrow. The shadows in each of the unidentifiable parts create a haunted effect. These limbs are not specifically human or animal, hence the title of the show. 

The pieces as a whole are very exposing specifically in the sense of the abject. The medium Laxalt chose, ceramics and 3D mixed media, was used to its full potential, the message wouldn’t have been as tangible or show stopping. Overall, this was a very unique and interesting show that revealed another side of people, life and ceramics.