There’s no way a photograph can convey the grotesque hilarity of Cathy McClure’s creatures. That’s why I’ve begun this Studio Visit post with a video I borrowed from her website instead of delving headfirst into the shots I took last week at her studio. She calls her sculptures “bots,” but if you ask me that’s way too cute a word for these rascally terrors. McClure is first and foremost a metalsmith, and she also makes zoetrope installations that are breathtaking and strange. But it’s the bots that are all over the East Nashville space that she and her husband are staying in through May.
Her process for creating the bots is deceptively simple — by taking the fur off of the battery-powered toy animals and recasting them in silver or bronze, McClure can reassemble them into little metallic clanking gargoyles. Without their fur and with metal bones instead of plastic, the movements become stiffer and audibly rickety, like the cymbal-banging monkey in a Stephen King story. McClure leaves certain elements intact in their original material — baby-doll eyes that peek out at you like a scene from House of Wax, or extremities like a tail or a trunk that seem to be shaped like spinal columns. I find them terrifying, but a co-worker whom I sent the above video to thought they were hilarious. Our final consensus: a little from column A, a little from column B.