CONTENT WARNING: Comments on classism or socio-economic prejudice (not depicted visually)

Uprooted, 2024, 14” x 24” x 30”


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Uprooted is about the journey of overcoming financial barriers to achieve stable housing that one can settle into. It touches on themes of breaking free from generational predispositions, being adaptive and resilient, and blooming into one’s full potential when the time is right. The sculpture is constructed out of a steel wire base, aluminum, clay papier mâché, and acrylic paint.


Mackenzie Sheehan-D’Arrigo is a ceramicist and sculptor pursuing a BFA in Studio Art. With a background in science, much of her work explores themes of nature, anatomy, geology, and memory. She hopes to take a gap year after graduating in Spring 2024 before moving on to an MFA program.


Much of what it means to be an artist, especially a mixed media artist, is being able to work through trial and error. Oftentimes our initial sketches are far from the final product and even our relationship with the concept can change. Among these changes in our creative endeavors is material. We sometimes either find that there are other materials that better suit our concept, or, simply, that a material is not practical for the project. For me, as someone who loves to problem solve and experiment, this is a fun challenge to overcome, however, it goes without saying that this can get costly. Throughout the process of creating this piece that meant a lot to me personally, I faced this aforementioned issue and had to experiment with multiple media. The CREATE Microgrant allowed me to do so without worry of setting myself behind financially. Not only did it help me with this particular project, but I now have multiple ways of working that I can call upon for future projects which will make it easier to narrow it down from the beginning. My background is in ceramics, so when COVID hit I was unable to access a safe studio needed for working with clay. This sparked my interest in working with other materials. Due to not being able to go out and purchase new materials, I learned to be resourceful with items that can be found and repurposed in the home. I also learned how valuable curating your personal space is to making your environment for creation a conducive and inviting one. Without a doubt, I believe that this grant is an excellent opportunity for future CAL students of financial need to pursue so that they too can maximize their creative potential. Not only are material and resources important for students, but so is time. The creative process is not always a quick or easy one, nor is the generation of ideas. An opportunity like this reminds creatives that their time is valued, which is essential for them to feel comfortable pursuing a life in the arts.