Sculptor and jewelry designer, Cydney Ross explores the architectural passage of time through unconventional ceramics and mixed media. By over-firing, freezing, and thawing her materials, she simulates the swaying, slumping, and even collapsing of structure.
“Architecture guides the forms and surfaces explored in all areas of my studio practice. Structures being built, torn down, or that have faced massive destruction capture my attention and stir my curiosity.”
Ross earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Ceramics from the Kansas City Art Institute. While studying abroad at the International Ceramics Studios in Kecskemét, Hungary, she found her muse in a required course called, “The Architecture Vessel.”
“Prior to this course my studio practice was all over the place and I had never considered focusing on architecture as subject. I tried throwing pots and creating tiles inspired by rolling landscapes as well as trying my hand at figure sculpting. Nothing at this point really hooked me like architecture had. I think a lot of my fascination with architecture resides in observing and analyzing my surroundings, and considering ‘what if?’”
Ross is inspired by the built environment, both near and far. In her first architectural piece, paper-clay reflects the wooden scaffolding used to construct the 12th Street Viaduct, a historic concrete bridge in her hometown of Kansas City, Missouri.
Inspired by Syrian architect, Marwa Al-Sabouni’s book, “The Battle for Home,” Ross focused on war struck cities in Syria in her 2017 solo exhibit, “Structural Integrity.” The destruction of these cities lies within her Brutalist wearable sculpture series, “Barely Contained.”
In a more recent piece, “Weight of the World,” Ross represents the U.S. Capitol building as a visual expression of her experience as a young woman and artist through the current administration and the socio-political movements like Black Lives Matter, Women's March, and Me Too.
The construction of these sculptures is tedious work. Ross begins by cutting strips and slabs of paper infused clay. Paper gives the clay structural integrity and capillaries, allowing the clay to be rehydrated at any time. Thick, liquid clay, called slip, joins the cut pieces together. Sculpting can take weeks to months. Once the structure is complete, the work is fired in a kiln reaching over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Similar to Mother Nature herself, Ross enjoys the spontaneity and loss of control of over-firing or even freezing the raw clay to better capture the passage of time.