Sam Shaw’s figurative sculptures are part of the 10,000-year dialog of representing and abstracting the human form.
In lieu of rendering and sculpting the body parts, Shaw prefers to adopt ready-made and easily available doll parts. By mixing scale, or cutting and combining parts, he can fabricate and abstract the human form. Shaw connects the parts together, fills and smooths the joints, and creates forms that are believable, but completely wrong. Because we are all so familiar of how humans look, one’s brain instantly recognizes forms as familiar, despite the proportions and placement of limbs being highly irregular. Shaw eschews stands or pedestals; he prefers his pieces to stand on their own, just like we do.
Some of the parts Shaw uses were manufactured in different centuries. The 19th century porcelain heads do not look like the doll heads made in 1950’s do not look like those made in 2005. Humans have not changed, but the societal perceptions portraying humans are frozen in time with these porcelain casts. This is an additional layer that gives context, and a window of how we have thought of ourselves.
“Any time one looks at another person, we create a narrative about them based on all the available information, layered with our innate biases. We often instantly determine if they are friend or foe, or if they are appealing to us. We create a story in our mind, because we are regarding another member of our tribe, and that’s what we do. Always. Typically, one brings this same skill when viewing my pieces. Because of our innate ability to judge one another, people are typically either delighted or perhaps a bit creeped out by my work, sometimes both at the same time.” Sam Shaw