Portals of Hope and Ruin: Linda Sormin’s recent sculpture

By Julia Couzens

Linda Sormin, Leluhur, video still

Like a pearl diver, ceramic sculptor Linda Sormin retrieves scattered fragments, petrified gestures, and deposits of culture from life’s unstable and accumulating existential reef to construct unruly odes to contemporary experience. Chunks of rolled, pinched, and flattened slabs of clay are cobbled and heaped into riotous thickets of line and encrusted ceramic grottos. Dripped glaze, cut and painted paper, gold leaf, found ceramic curios, and scribbled studio notes are larded into these agglomerations, helping to invoke a circulating narrative of being and becoming. The teetering formal contradictions refute the authoritarian “correct.”

Linda Sormin, Sup sohn (detail), 2019, ceramic, shards, epoxy, gold leaf , 12 x 14 x 12 inches

Global affairs, politics, memory, and craft traditions learned and practiced in Sormin’s native Thailand inform and infiltrate her intuitive creative practice.

This rich mix is the sediment and singular matrix out of which her sculptural ideas evolve. Potent, authentic, and original, Sormin’s hybrid sculpture forms a continuum of interconnected states and energies, inexhaustible views without a beginning, middle, or end. Clotted nests and coils of pinched ceramic arteries sprout paint spattered wings of translucent painted paper. Rivulets of crimson glaze are stopped by a chink of white beaded glass, setting our minds in motion to forage between the esthetics of nature, craft, and art.

Linda Sormin, Fair winds and following seas, 2019, glazed ceramic, watercolor on paper, shards, leaf, 18 x 12.5 x 11.5 inches

Sormin speaks of her work as “portals.” Indeed, her sculpture is a conduit of consciousness, dualities, and contradictions. Works such as Khlong Khlaew and Sup sohn (sic), with their awkward protrusions, perforations, openness, and glossy surfaces, call to mind gongshi, Chinese spirit stones. The curling scraps of Sormin’s cut and painted paper that are laced throughout the churn of complex ceramic clusters in such pieces as Paintings for Sophia Mamora and Fair winds and following seas evoke unfurled paint bespattered sails. Funneling remnant winds blowing in from other civilizations, the works suggest fully rigged tall ships heeling in high seas, loaded with hope and ruin.


Linda Sormin | Gail Wight
Dates: 29 February – 25 July 2020.

Written by Julia Couzens – Julia Couzens is an artist who writes about contemporary art. She is a contributing writer to and The Sacramento Bee. Her essays have appeared in Ceramics: Art and Perception, and for various West Coast institutions including the Crocker Art Museum, Riverside Art Museum, University of LaVerne, and UNLV/Marjorie Barrick Museum.