Goddesses + Emaciation by Sylvia Netzer

Goddesses + Emaciation

by Sylvia Netzer at A.I.R. Gallery

Seeing Sylvia Netzer’s Glen-Gery Olympia in Cantando Bajito: Testimonies at the Ford Foundation led me to Goddesses + Emaciation at A.I.R. Gallery, and to learning about slipcasting porcelain, and just loving being in this blue room and finding myself physically in the midst of the metaphor of the mold —

Especially, standing there as a woman, ideas around

  • fitting to a mold — when you do and when you don’t and how that changes throughout your life
  • what that feels like inside you, and how it affects how you see others, as well as yourself when you accept that there is a mold to fit to
  • how a mold takes on qualities because of the material chosen by the mold-maker and the methods used,
  • what the mold-maker is thinking and wanting of you

seeing these goddesses playing with the dolls’ parts…was viscerally satisfying — nourishing like air when you breathe deeply and for yourself.

Claire, 2023, Slip cast porcelain and glass roods, 14 1:2 x 6 3:4 x 6 3:4 inches


The sculptures in Goddesses + Emaciation reflect Netzer’s ongoing struggle with self-care and love. They are also the outcome of her five-year study into slip casting. The works in the exhibition are comprised of ceramic goddess figures and dismembered doll parts, both of which were slipcast with liquid porcelain clay in plaster molds. The molds for the goddess figures were formed by hand, while the doll parts were cast from a famous fashion doll. Plaster is known for its deliquescent properties. As it absorbs moisture from the clay, it leaves a hollow ceramic shell behind. [1]

Gladys, Slip cast porcelain, 10 1:2 x 15 3:4 x 4 3:4 in

Ilsa, Slip cast porcelain & glass rods, 12 1:4 x 9 x 5 in

Gwen, Slip cast porcelain & glass rods, 10 1:4 x 10 1:2 x 7 in and Stacey, Slip cast porcelain & glass rods 16 x 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches

what we ‘should’ look and be like

“We have all taken in our own Barbara Millicent Roberts,” says Netzer. “We all feel society’s pressure to conform to an unrealistic ideal of what we ‘should’ look and be like.” The sculptures in Goddesses + Emaciation give form to feeling, as they aim to represent in three dimensions our anxieties that we are too big, too flabby, too short, or too tall. And yet, through their humor, they also embody something more joyous: the hard-won feeling of self-acceptance and self-love. [1]

Stacey, Slip cast porcelain & glass rods 16 x 6 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches

Rebecca, Slip cast porcelain & glass rods 15 x 6 1/4 x 5 1/4 inches

To give you a visual of their size, here’s a room view. The far end of the wall there displays relics, porcelain body parts.

Godesses + Emaciation room view 01

This last one (really first one as it welcomes you into the exhibition) is a bell that you can ring!

Belle, Slip cast porcelain & twine 15 x 6 inches

Though our perceptions of our bodies are constantly mutating, the stifling perfection that the fashion doll embodies persists unremittingly. [1]

[1] A.I.R. gallery invitation