"Rarely have I witnessed the intention and integrity of an artist who so quickly and one-pointedly was able to begin a project and see the vision through as planned. Her skills reflect a life-time of observation and attention to the arts."
Pam Morris, Owner of Exciting Lighting, Sausalito California
My life as an artist began when I was very young. My mother, Emily, kept her four children busy making craft related projects all of the time. There was no television, but we did listen to radio shows, leaving the hands and visual field free to create. We were sewing, gluing, leather crafting, working with shells, doing cloisonné, planting in the garden, making our own soap, always a whole raft of activities that helped to mold and develop our eye-hand coordination.
I clearly remember my mother saying to me in the fifth grade, "Here is the sewing machine, this is how you thread it, and here is a trunk of fabric I have been saving for you. If you want new clothes from now on, you will have to make them." No mention of patterns to help in the process. She pretty much left me to learn by doing.
By the time I was in the eighth grade, my sister and I made an entire wedding outfit. In fact, these artistic activities were a form of entertainment, and I never felt slighted, but rather accepted the challenge and was grateful for the opportunities that came my way.
College and Teaching Years
When it was time to go to college, there was no doubt that I would study art, and since the local university was an institution for teacher training, I taught high school art for fifteen years: ceramics, jewelry, sculpture, weaving and design.
It was during the 15 years of teaching that I continually took figure-drawing classes.
My favorite drawing experiences were with a model in constant motion, something that forced an intrinsic understanding of the human form as it moved through the gestures of dance.
Becoming an Artist
As a child growing up, I knew I had different learning patterns than most. I discovered in my late 40's this was typical of dyslexia. A good friend helped me to understand the upside of this "so–called" learning disorder. Upon his explanation, I came to understand that the perceptual abilities of this 3-D enhanced learning pattern, offers those of us who are so fortunate--to have a magnified understanding of the mechanical nature of objects.
This of course translates very well for the artist/mechanic/computer genius etc. Whenever I get the chance I speak with dyslexic children and adults who have been labeled ADD or variations thereof and sing their praises for their learning "abilities" and the advantages therein.
While in my 30‘s I took the odd chance of attempting to get into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, perhaps just testing the waters to see if I was indeed in some manner 'learning challenged' and this malady would prevent my going back to school. Thanks to a glowing report written by one of my undergraduate professors, I was accepted into grad school.
Two years of studies took me five to complete while teaching full-time and being a single mother. I did indeed complete a considerable amount of studio work, but the overlaying theme of the paintings and sculptures had a flavor of despondency relative to the condition of humanity. I felt boxed in; a cloud over my head and the light was definitely not on!
The five years of perseverance finally paid off and I completed a Masters degree.
With a degree under my belt, my two sons and I moved from Wisconsin to Oregon searching for something; I wasn‘t sure just what. Only that I had to leave the Midwest to find it.
Fiber arts seemed to be the direction for the next few years, so I bought a yarn store in Eugene Oregon and began teaching private weaving lessons, but there was an underlying unrest and dissatisfaction brewing deep within my psyche, and through a very unusual event found what I was searching for—a Spiritual Teacher whose influence affected me deeply and had a profound effect on my understanding of the nature of Reality, bringing a sense of joy and freedom.
Becoming a Sculptor
In the year 2001, at the time of the transition into my sixth decade, the moment became clear for me to continue my pursuit of fine arts. ‘Bells starting going off, ’ and a resounding message was coming through. Impatience with putting my artistic pursuits on the shelf had come to an end. Knowing that the age of ninety was just 30 years down the pike, I was not going to say at that time: ‘Wish I had done my passion for sculpture.‘ In fact, it took me no more than thirty seconds to decide to do sculptures of women dancing with a rapturous quality.
Of the frequently asked questions, perhaps the first is-- who are my models, and to this I respond, "Every woman that I have ever looked at or drawn is archived for this moment." Surprised with the ease of the sculpture process and the natural affinity for clay, the twelve women evolved one after the other till at last they were completed
The first three never made it to bronze for they were the props that allowed me to unfold in sculpture.
In each case, the women are in motion, filled with grace; a grace that is not 'about them,' but about their relationship to life. The "Women" were informed by my past twenty years of doing the diligence of becoming a human being.
Taking these works to bronze (the First Women Series gallery pages on this website) took me eight years to complete. The series also includes two related torsos.
In 2008, I was offered the opportunity to be Artist-In-Residence at Westhaven Center for the Arts, which is near Trinidad, California. While the space I was given was small, I decided to be expansive and chose to make another series of nine women for a one-woman show I would have at the center's gallery. Economic times were changing and bronze was out of range considering my retirement salary.
I made smaller figures of ‘Women’ this time (which can be expanded to any scale). I had only eight months to complete the clay sculptures, molds and the resin castings, since I wasn‘t taking them to the foundry. And by November of 2008, I was able to install my one-woman show, entitled, "A Silent Opera of Nine Women," plus three torsos.
The show was a success and many pieces sold. The local Humboldt County community had been very curious about the process of sculpture-making while I was the resident artist, they were not only curious, they were prepared to purchase pieces from the Silent Opera.
As 2008 came to a close, the board of directors at Westhaven Center for the Arts asked me to stay on for another year. They had appreciated seeing the entire process unfold as the sculpting, moldmaking and resin casting progressed. This series is seen in its completion in the Silent Opera of Nine Women Gallery pages on this website.
This story began as a "Vision Statement". Here is what the dictionary concludes about the word Vision:vi·sion [vizh-uhn]-noun 1. The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be: prophetic vision; the vision of an entrepreneur. 2. An experience in which a personage, thing, or event appears vividly or credibly to the mind, although not actually present, often under the influence of a divine or other agency.
This Vision with all its compendium of descriptions illustrating the unfolding of a life's work is brief and spares the reader the usual boring details of the ups and downs, the starts and stops, the halts and failures, of the artist at work. I offer my immeasurable gratitude to the saints and sinners along the way who challenged me to excel. My undying love for my two sons who were often the best critics I could have asked for, and for their willingness to allow their mother to grow as an artist, often at their expense.
Sculpture Woman Studio - P.O. Box 1112 - Trinidad, California 95570 - firstname.lastname@example.org