Visual Arts | WIP

Aimee Odum Embraces the Sometimes Quirky Possibilities of Artificial Intelligence

Aimee Oldum at work on the studio, experimenting with sculptures and digital images created using Artificial Intelligence. Image courtesy the artist.

Artificial Intelligence may soon cure your neighbor’s cancer. More likely, it will put you out of a job. And that might just be a prelude to its destroying all of mankind. Hide from it, ignore it, embrace it … it seems pretty clear from people in the know that AI is about to drastically alter our world.

Aimee Odum is one of those embracing it.

Odum looks both to the past and to the future in her art. She works in clay, one of our earliest mediums, but she also engages with digital technologies, including the recent developments in artificial intelligence. “Biomorphic, ceramic objects are often left with finger indentations and layered with heavy glaze to communicate a sense of liveliness,” she says of her work. “Videos are distorted and animated for a mesmerizing, dream-like atmosphere. The mediums are then combined as full-body installations or window-sized assemblages to create a space where future or parallel universes can be imagined.“

Odum received her MFA in ceramics from the University of Arkansas after studying art therapy at Indiana Wesleyan University. Since graduation, she has staged several important exhibitions, including in New York City, Miami and Providence, RI, and completed residencies in Iceland and at Provincetown, MA. Since moving to Utah, she has been teaching ceramics at the Cottonwood Clay Studio. The Utah Division of Arts & Museums recently awarded her a Career Advancement Grant, and she is an Artist-in-Residence at Bountiful Davis Art Center.

Glaze tests. Image courtesy the artist.

She says her process is “non-linear and fueled by experimentation. Ceramic sculptures are often hand-built with molds formed of paper to create an organic shape. I add openings and appendages that resemble faces and legs. With a strong background in glaze chemistry, I experiment with a multitude of layering treatments to create vibrant, protruding surfaces. This demands systematic testing and recording so that I can channel the collected information with an impulsive, expressionistic application.”

She also gets her hands dirty online. “I pull inspiration for specific shapes and collect video footage from personal adventures and online databases. Geological structures, botanical life, and theoretical ideas such as those proposed by Jane Bennett, suggesting inanimate objects have more of a life than credited, all influence the work.”

Most recently she has been exploring the the emerging relationships of humans and artificial intelligence. “I ‘collaborate’ with art-generating apps by providing text and images of my current sketches and ceramic sculptures to influence their image-generating possibilities,” she says. AI has succeeded in amazing ways in recent months, and yet, a program like ChatGPT can seem to hallucinate at times, while depicting feet has proven surprisingly difficult for  image-generating AI. Odum embraces these quirks. “[AI’s] distorted production of images inform configurations in my work or inspire new ideas all together,” she says. “It has been a surprising exploration that instigates as many questions about trust and emotion between human-to-human relationships as humans–to-machines. I’m excited to see how other themes and curiosities arise as I continue to delve deeper.”

Results from Odum’s recent collaborations with image-generating AI systems. Image courtesy the artist.

You can see more of the artist’s work at and on Instagram. She’ll be staging a solo exhibition at the Bountiful Davis Art Center in September of 2023.

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