Ceramic sculptor Lisa Clague‘s “My Little Darlings” are part of the Fuller Craft Museum’s display of work from the permanent collection, up until July 12.
Made of fired ceramic with an encaustic finish (stains and waxes rather than glaze), Clague’s unsetting figures are inspired by fairy tales and childhood games. Says Clague, “Experimenting with material still excites me…I’m inspired by dreams, delightful fantasies or feverish horrors. Nature, ancient art, antique toys, old dolls that are beyond repair, all feed my imagination.”
Boston sculptor Kitty Wales has had several works in the deCordova sculpture park over the years, and her bronze “Feral Goose” is now a permanent installation along the winding path of smaller work next to the museum building. The lifesize goose, advancing toward the viewer, seemed particularly animated on a late-autumn day. Wales chooses animals as her main subject matter, whether dogs, sharks, or birds of prey.
Mariana Pineda (1925-1996) created my favorite piece in the deCordova Museum’s sculpture park, “Eve Celebrant.” The lifesize bronze represents Eve before the Fall, striding confidently through her garden with a pomegranate, symbol of fertility, in one hand while the other is raised in greeting–or protection–or warning.
As Pineda said of her work: “My materials and subjects are time-honored, but I feel free to…use focus, abbreviation, merger of forms–whatever seems appropriate to convey the meaning.”*
On a misty, late fall day, it was possible to capture the softness of Eve’s moss green patina in the rainy light.
*Charlotte Streifer Rubinstein, American Women Sculptors, p.373
Marilu Swett’s new exhibit, “Soundings,” explores the ocean through both natural and man-made artifacts. The artifacts are found objects, or else the artist’s riffs on oddities and castoffs that wash up along the shoreline. The work conjures New England’s maritime past in poignant tangles of antique fabrics and 19th-century tools, combined with Swett’s own cast metal, plastic, and wood sculpture. Muses Swett, “…the ocean [is the] site of evolution, human industry, and constant watery companionship.”
Swett has created a series of interrelated sculptures and drawings, some painted directly on the wall. The works find a resonant home in Boston Sculptors’ back gallery, which, with its cast iron columns, massive wooden
beams, and mysterious hatchways, adds antiquarian humor to the installation.
At Boston Sculptors until December 14: http://www.bostonsculptors.com/
Newton, Massachusetts-based Nancy Schön (b. 1928) is an international sculptor of whimsical animals, best known for her bronze duck and ducklings in Boston’s Public Garden. This series of sculptures is her recreation of the duck family in Robert McCloskey’s classic children’s book, Make Way for Ducklings. Schön’s sculptures are designed for people to touch, sit on, hug and interact with every day of the year. In addition to Make Way for Ducklings, Shön created a bronze Tortoise and Hare which is a metaphor for the Boston Marathon, located at race’s the finish line in Copley Square. Nancy married Donald Schön in 1952 and feels their work was very similar. Donald’s writing about “reflection in action” parallels the process of creating a sculpture as the professional reflects on their practice in the midst of practice in order to problem solve. As Nancy creates a work of art, her research is a quest for knowledge and of understanding issues and of learning. “We learn so much from our inquiry but as my husband said, ‘we know more than we can say’ and I would always say back to him that I think our unconscious is brilliant!” Nancy was recently awarded an honorary doctor of law degree from Mount Ida College in honor of her work in public sculpture.
I dropped off a wax at the Green Foundry in Eliot, Maine last week. There is a lovely sculpture show on the grounds, which is adjacent to Sanctuary Arts. I was reminded of foundry days at Andrew DeVries‘s River Studio, where my early work was cast.
Check out my work at the upcoming Boston Biennial 3 at Atlantic Works gallery!
Modeling wax likenesses, like watercolor painting and embroidery, was considered an acceptable form of artistic accomplishment for women in the Enlightenment. Patience Wright, however, brought what can only be called notoriety to her chosen art form. The notorious Mrs. Wright, a widow with three children to support and a talent for making money from her talents, was famously called “the queen of sluts” by Abigail Adams. Whether this was a response to a personal remark made by the artist, or a general observation about Mrs. Wrights’ character, is not recorded. Patience Wright did, however, do a brisk business at her London wax works studio—an exhibit which predated Madame Tussaud’s by a good thirty years.
Patience Wright was originally from Philadelphia, and exhibited her wax figures widely in the colonies before a fire destroyed her work while on display in New York. Benjamin Franklin encouraged her to come to London, where he introduced her to members of London society, whom Mrs. Wright had, it seems, no trouble cultivating.
A 1772 article in the Virginia Gazette describes Mrs. Wright’s working methods: “…this peculiar excellence of forming men and women in wax was reserved by the goddess of nature for the superiour [sic] genius of America; and when we consider to what an amazing perfection she has brought this art, it rather perplexes our understanding to see compositions so immediately like ourselves. I mixed with a variety of fashionable people, who frequent this repository of curiosities, and I could not help smiling to hear and see her at work; for while the head lies upon her knee it hath so strongly a human appearance, that, at the first sight, it looks like a fresh head severed from the body. But the manner of her working up the features is wonderful; she always covers the wax with a cloth, and while the wax is warm and soft, and equal to any impression, she raises or depresses it at pleasure, and some of the strongest likenesses she hath done from memory only…”
Pictured: Patience Wright working on a wax figure, circa 1775. From http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-madame-tussaud-of-the-american-colonies-was-a-founding-fathers-stalker-180948610/?no-ist