Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Michelle Erickson

paradise lost

paradise lost

Michelle Erickson. paradise lost, 2008–2009.

Paradise Lost This porcelain dish, the second in a series of contemporary political commentary, was inspired by the structure and composition of 16th-century French potter Bernard Palissy’s fecundity dish. The first dish in the series, Liberty on Leave (now in the collection of The Mint Museum of Craft and Design) is a response to the initiation and declaration of the 2003 Iraq war and the policies of George W Bush. In both works, Palissy’ figure of Fecundity, the goddess of fertility, is transformed into Liberty accompanied with historic and modern iconography about the issues of war and politics in the Middle East. Paradise Lost created in 2008 after years of brutal warfare in the region reveals the harsh realities of the Bush administration policies. Liberty is literally and figuratively stripped to the bone. Her cherubic offspring reduced to children of war clad in gas masks wielding machine guns as big as they are. As the title would suggest the Middle East, the birthplace of man, has been transformed- the barren seed of warfare has devoured the fertile ground of the proverbial garden. An American flag, faded and fragmented, drapes the skeletal frame of Liberty her armor the vestige of her once flowing robes. In order to take up arms she must relinquish the torch of freedom, which falls by the wayside, while the tablet engraved with the date of America’s own independence lays like a toppled tombstone beneath her feet. The tarnished presidential seal fills the circular reserves on the border and the cornucopia baskets of fruits and flowers are replaced with the familiar shell oil logo. The masks of comedy and drama representing art and culture are superimposed with death heads and finally the 21st century emblems of the Red Cross, Crescent, Star, and Lion represent symbolically and literally the consequence of war to all humanity.


21st century, ceramic, art, porcelain, war, political, social,

paradise lostmade in chinaFossil TeapotShell Pickle StandOctopus Junk TeapotFront and CenterpieceTimepeace

hampton, VA

18 North Mallory Street
hampton, VA 23663

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