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English Version | "Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth."

14 Apr 2022
By Joana Rodrigues Stumpo

Irony. Lots of irony. Marie-Claude Marquis has the perfect items to deal with life’s intermittences.

Irony. Lots of irony. Marie-Claude Marquis has the perfect items to deal with life’s intermittences. 

© Marie-Claude Marquis
© Marie-Claude Marquis

A flat tire, a burnt cake, a missed train, a broken heart - shit happens. This is exactly how the story of Marie-Claude’s decorative plates begins, with built up tension that needed to be released. It was with “spontaneous writing” that she dealt with a heartbreak, by taking “different quotes from my journal where I expelled bad feelings”, that the artist got inspired to create true works of inner uprising - in them she writes what can’t always be said. More than the phrases that say what goes inside in the most direct way possible, the kind of art that Marie-Claude makes is precisely the kind that, in a harsh and violent gesture, is to be thrown on the floor with a frustrated shriek. But the artist’s plates, delicate pieces of ceramics, were not made to be broken. The particularity of her work is precisely in “the contrast made between bold words and fragile materials”. Just like she tells Vogue, “being honest and strong as I’m vulnerable is a complex duality that I think is important to work, in my personal life as well as in my creative practice”. That’s why in vintage plates, some of them true antiques, you can read phrases that may shock susceptible readers, such as “Everything is fucking great”, “Suck a bag of dicks”, ou simply “Fuck”. Throughout the creative process, her favorite part is to “find phrases that will surprise those who see them, either by shock, making them feel something, making them laugh or even think”. Along the choice of the right terms, Marie-Claude works around some central values that guide the message of her art: “Communication, vulnerability, being honest and putting your feelings into words, but all of this with humor, for a touch of lightness”.

Besides the ludicrous (and brutally honest) words, each plate is decorated with an illustration that makes everything even more ironic. These details are out of the artist’s control, according to her, as she finds these pieces “in second hand stores, flea markets, garage sales and so forth”. In these vintage plates is the hope that “whoever sees them can find the value of reusing and buying second hand. Old objects are beautiful - they have a soul and a story”. One of the downsides of working with fragile materials is that (accidentally or not) they break. But not even when that happens do they get set aside: “I can present them simply broken, with the pieces glued together bringing out the cracks or mix pieces of different plates to create a whole new one”. In these cases, “the message written on the plate relates perfectly to what happened, so these are happy accidents”, even though “choosing the phrase usually depends on my mood, on what me and my friends are going through, on what I find as a starting point”. And that’s the great challenge: “Finding a quote with a clever twist that gives a second meaning to the illustration”. When we mention the power of words, Marie-Claude stresses that, “unlike spoken word, written word gives us time to weigh our thoughts and think about how the message is going to be received. The power of written word is very strong”. When it comes to quotes, the artist shares her favorite one: “‘Trust your gut’, because it usually knows more than our heads”.

Translated form the original on The Quote Issue, from Vogue Portugal, published April 2022.Full stories and credits on the print issue.


Joana Rodrigues Stumpo By Joana Rodrigues Stumpo


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