Have you ever stared at an optical illusion puzzle? After a few seconds your eyes are seeing double, and triple layers at the same time. You try to focus and interesting things start to happen. You can see patterns not available on your first view of the puzzle.
When you gaze at a Debra Fritts ceramic sculpture, a similar thing happens. First the (remarkable) eyes pull you in. Soon you begin to see layers of human experience revealed. It is a kind of optical illusion puzzle of the psyche. You feel as if you are seeing the history, the stories of individual people going back to the totality of everything they have seen and been. Then if you look long enough, you see the connection this history has to our collective past. Importantly, you can, if you are still able to look, see yourself and everything you have seen and been.
One obvious reason for this intense effect is that Fritts is a master at capturing the complexity of human emotion in the eyes, facial, and body expressions of the people she builds in clay. A second and perhaps less obvious reason is that she layers on these people, rich organic black lines in unexpected places, making a play of light and shadow with intense texture that produces a striking visual reaction in our eyes. She layers on subtle color that can add more levels to visually interact with the black lines. One sees the complexity in the whole, as in the optical illusion puzzle. Her work strikes deep. It is more novel than short story.
THIS is what I want art to do.
The Ringworks Studio