With A Dance Background, A Brooklyn Artist Channels The Poetry Of Motion For Her Lighting And Sculptures


Kassandra Thatcher portrait in studio

Sculptor and ceramic lighting designer Kassandra Thatcher’s creations are as much about movement as materials and texture—To see one of her biomorphic lamps is to witness a body in motion. “My inspiration is almost solely the human form,” Thatcher says. “I’m drawn to the curvature of the body—the way it moves and its nooks and crannies. My work centers on creating a still moment of gesture.”

Those moments can be traced back to a childhood immersed in movement. As part of a modern dance company, Thatcher’s awareness of bodies and the space between them began at a young age, instilling in her a preoccupation with body language and the poetry of motion.

Her passion for the human form is equally nourished by a fascination with the constant rush of her native New York City, where she finds herself mesmerized by a sea of uninhibited motivity. Whether observing the way a pedestrian crosses the street or the seemingly unremarkable turn of a head, Thatcher catalogs micro movements that ultimately resurface in her works. “The unintentional movements that people exhibit are enthralling to me,” she explains.

Converting those observations into organic lamps and sculptures is a process influenced by likes of Jean Arp, Henry Moore, Constantin Brâncuși and Barbara Hepworth. “Many people in my field are referring artists,” Thatcher muses. “Everything we do is an homage to who came before us.” Like Hepworth, she finds that an amorphous approach resonates: Rather than basing her pieces on formal sketches or preliminary models, Thatcher lets the process determine the outcome, trusting in the materials. “If I think too much about what I’m creating, I can scare myself out of it,” she says. “I find that listening to podcasts or audio books—something that engages my brain while I work—lets the pent up energy in my body take over and create.” From there, Thatcher embraces the unfolding, plying her signature gritty sculpture clay, which contains large amounts of grog and sand, into gestural forms.

The past year hosted many firsts for the young artist, notably, an appearance at the high-end craft fair, Field + Supply, and retail partnerships with Spartan Shop in Portland, Oregon, Totokaelo in New York and jewelry designer Mary MacGill’s concept shop in Germantown, among others. It was MacGill who first introduced Thatcher to the corporeal works of the late photographer Edward Weston, which Thatcher felt immediate kinship with. “Weston photographed everyday things, but paid close attention to form,” she notes. “That meticulous detail resonates with me.” Inspired by a particular photo of seashells, Thatcher crafted a set of diminutive table lamps, in turn inspiring a full collection based on Weston’s work, which shows at Mary MacGill Studio this spring.

Freshly settled into her new Bushwick, Brooklyn studio, Thatcher hopes to carve out time in the flurry of growth for play and exploration. Notes the artist, “You have to leave time for fun. I’m hoping to spend more time making work for no particular reason other than the fact that I want it to exist.”