Betsy Odom

Bear Trap
lead, pewter, paint – 16 x 16 x 6 inches

My work explores the ephemera surrounding displays of identity.  I work with specific materials like tooled leather, sporty fabrics, cork, graphite, thick silver, and airbrushed paints.  These materials signify the cultural phenomena that have surrounded my own development:  Southern culture, women’s athletics, tomboys, hobbyists, fantasy, or camp. The aesthetics of these groups, although rooted in functionality, often serve to reinforce embedded messages about gender, class, race, and sexuality.  I attempt to use a combination of earnest craftsmanship and humor to extract and subvert these messages, creating objects that entertain a fantasy of moving freely among social groups and confronting the contradictions therein.

I employ a variety of techniques to create my work; I use skills ranging from leather tooling to woodworking, ceramics to airbrushing, sewing to metalworking.  Although I often subvert these traditional processes, I try to stay true to the original crafts I reference.  I fully engage in the “hubris” of making, examining the ways a well-crafted object can point to a larger sense of pride, value, and identity.  I direct my own “pride in making” towards the creation of specific objects with symbolic, romantic, and humorous meaning.  My sculptures embody the ghosts of women’s gym coaches, crushes on camp-counselors, unrecognized athletes, or brassy-old maids–illuminating and conflating the unique aesthetics that accompany these underrepresented cultures.