Catastrophe Theory

Developed by philosopher and mathematician Ren´e Thom in the 1960's, catastrophe theory attempts to describe systems in structural stability and morphogenesis in which "gradual changing forces produce a sudden effect."

From the drip of a faucet, to the explosion of a volcano, the theory hoped to provide insight into the moment just before collapse.  Numerous mathematical applications are apparent in this theory such as the sudden collapse of bridges, or the capsizing of ships at sea. However, other fields such as philosophy or psychology attempted to apply the theory in regards to fight or flight theory in animals, or the sudden outbreak of prison riots.  The theory has evolved and has manifested itself in different forms such as chaos theory.  The ideas of this theory remain intriguing to me as an artist.  Over the last year I have been very interested in vulnerability and how to represent it visually.  The marble piece I created this summer was an attempt to represent something that is struggling to hold its balance.

I am excited to explore this idea further in manifestations of precarious structures.



"Laughter is synonymous with hope." David Shrigley

"Comedy can offer us reassurance about where we stand. A shared joke is a shared world.”  (Bevis, 2013)

"To be a fool is to be human: perhaps it is even more fundamental: it is to be a person.  We are finite, and folly is that species of finitude that, being unshunnable, demands self-confrontation.  Because we confront ourselves finitely, we must remain always something of a mystery to ourselves, but never to the point of total ignorance or total confusion." (Gelvin, 2000)

I am interested in comedy for its approachability, its ability to acknowledge faults, and in so doing its ability to create a space for authenticity, and relief from trying to mask something or be something else or "tidy something up".  It has a way of real confrontation with the reality of life and all its flaws.  Society sees vulnerability as a weakness.  I am interested in vulnerability as a strength and an access point into embracing weirdness and individuality.  Pressures of conformity and standardization are evermore present in today's society.  More and more people are seeking to hide their quirks and flaws, and present a constructed view of themselves to the world. Social media creates the perfect means to do this.  I hope to provide an alternate mode through my art, one that allows someone to laugh at themselves because they relate to the redicuous flaws of life represented in my work.



My previous work centered around internal psychological struggles.  Very narrative and metaphorical in form, much of my previous work followed along the renaissance tradition of using symbolism in animals.  For my BFA thesis show, entitled Birds, 3 sculptures represented 3 types of personal struggle. A metamorphosis piece entitled Migration Chambers dealt with the individual's struggle with death, life, and rebirth.  A piece entitled Answer, Anser dealt with a psychological struggle between people- and how individual perceptions/ biases interfere with communication.  Lastly a piece entitled Houdini on Alcatraz, dealt with an individual's struggle with destiny- life choices, identity, free will, and the impossible conundrum these ideas create.  Below is my artist statement from that show:


Artist Statement- Birds

     Birds are both fragile and powerful, mysterious and yet familiar, elegant and yet comic; they have come to represent for humanity the immeasurable aspects of life, that which we strive to understand and achieve. They thrive in vastly different climates, across all regions of the earth. They have appeared in the folklore, songs and literature of every human culture, and have become a part of the symbolic language we use to describe the indescribable.

     My sculptures serve as narrative pieces to engage the viewer into unseen internal struggles of the heart, life choices, and the unspoken interaction we have with other human beings. Through the form of birds, I am able to approach these more serious themes in a more lighthearted, approachable form.

~Chelsea Tinklenberg