Sometimes it can be just as much of a creative endeavour for an artist to provide that all important statement, breaking down the mind and motives behind the art. Other times, art is the natural step to help an artist deal with and respond to powerful moments, an Erika Sanada‘s Odd Things connect with her deeply as memories and personal battles are transformed into physical creatures.

Even before understanding the background from which each of these delicate, bizarre beings were born, it’s hard not to feel a twinge of protective instinct in light of their vulnerability; Erika’s highly talented eye for detail brings out the lifelike soft pink pallets reflecting new born flesh, while adding texture to these ceramic sculptures in each gentle crease brings her work to life. It’s easy to see why Erika Sanada has won several prestigious ceramic awards, hand-making these ceramic sculptures from concept to the final stroke of suitably perfect glazing.


Yet there is something more triggered from these creatures than the reaction to new-born innocence and exposure to this harsh world. Looking closer, the abnormalities of doubled limbs, conjoined bodies and questionable expressions suggest a darker layer to these staged scenes. Juxtaposing predominantly against the unprotected canine characters, malicious rat-like creatures often jump up throughout Erika’s exhibition creating a sense of unease and apprehension:

“I have had an anxious personality since I was a child. I worry about everything, even tiny things. Anxiety drags my mind to the dark side, which is more powerful and intense than my bright side. Sometimes I can’t move forward because I am emotionally paralyzed. I decided to go face-to-face with my anxieties by creating irregular and eerie creatures representing my dark side. As a result, these creatures show my twisted mind as I try to overcome anxiety through my creation.”

Through Erika’s Odd Things we see her ongoing struggle against her own demon Anxiety, as well echoing memories of childhood trauma. As a child, Erika was often bullied and ended up spending most of her time watching supernatural movies and animations in the comfort of her own surroundings. To help cope with her emotions as a child her parents gave her a dog, who became a “great companion” – this affection stayed with her throughout her adult life, and the imagery of dogs evolved to symbolise Joy. Juxtaposing this is her lifelong fascination with the darker side, and over time these supernatural and horror elements seeped into her psyche and projected into physical creations as her outlet took shape. Together, Erika Sanada’s unique sculptures were born.

Odd Things delves into a complicated relationship of happiness, anxiety, sadness and hope. Showing her ongoing struggle to find balance between joy and sorrow, Erika Sanada guarantees to take you with her on an emotional journey through each unique sculpture in the hope of finding a place of peace.

Odd Things: Daydreaming

Erika Sanada

28 November – 30 December

Antler Gallery & Store

2728 NE Alberta St • Portland • Oregon 97211 • US

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