Monday, January 10, 2022

"Perseverance" - 2020 - My Piece for the LOVE 20/20 Fundraiser for the Southern California ACLU

 In August of 2020, I was invite by GoldBug Gallery, in Pasadena, California to participate in their LOVE 20/20 fundraiser show. I of course said yes right away. I love the challenge of stepping away from my usual approach and process of my work. Twenty artists were selected for this special show, and each were supplied with a hollow ceramic heart, fabricated in Italy. I'd never worked with this material, but was eager to try my hand. I learned a lot during the creation of this piece, and was very happy with how my piece came out. 

As I began thinking about what this piece could be, I knew I wanted to place some small figure inside the heart, but who? or what? As you probably remember, 2020 was a tumultuous year. Many protests were happening - sparked by the killing of George Floyd, and others. I felt like I wanted to at least make a small comment about the current race relations in this country. I started thinking about all the things (known and unknown) that the African American members of our country have endured - past and present. The word 'perseverance' kept surfacing in my consciousness. I decided to depict a woman of color in a tight space. While trying not to be specific about the narrative, I also tried not to be specific as to the location. She could be in a cell, a ship, a container, a room, a cabin, shed - or maybe it's just a place in her mind? Anyway, I wanted to make this piece about hope, so I tried to give her a hopeful expression - and at the same time, an expression of perseverance. I hope I succeeded. 

Here are the final images...

The piece hangs on the wall, and measures 6.5" x 10.5" x 4.5"

With this image, I shone a light through the top left part of the heart. The light falls on her face because I made the ceiling with open slats (see below). I like this image the best. 

In-progress images....

Here, I'm just starting to cut the opening into the ceramic heart. I had to buy a special cutter for my Dremel, and cut it under a trickle of water - to keep the tool cool, but also to keep the dust down. It took a while getting used to how it cut - and I got very wet in the process - but eventually I got the hang of it. 

Progress. I had to be careful at the corners. I didn't know how the center piece would fall out, and I didn't want to crack the rest of the heart. Lots of learning happened this day.

The hole cut out. I did eventually recut the bottom line - I wanted it lower on the right side. 

The wooden parts for the inside. This was a bit of a 'ship in a bottle' challenge. I knew what I wanted to do, but had to figure out how to do it. I had to insert the wooden parts from the front, but they had to expand into the insides. I thought it would work if I had the 3 main parts attached to each other. I could then just fold the 2 sides in, insert the whole thing, and then let the 2 sides fold out, into place. I tried rubber bands, but they weren't reliable enough, and were hard to work with. This is the back of the 3 parts.

This is the front side. 
The other challenge with this piece was getting these straight pieces to fit inside the heart, whose insides were very organic and curvy. Lots of trial and error - lots of fitting and refitting - in and out many many times.

Here I'm pretty close. I put the hinged parts in and added the floor and ceiling. Easier said than done, but at this point I knew it was going to work. The pins are there so I could pull the floor and ceiling in and out. 

The final pieces, painted and aged. You can see that the ceiling has openings for light to shine through.

Her head, sculpted from polymer clay.

I knew that I wanted a red clay color for the heart, so why not find some real red clay and make "paint" from it? This is a chunk of Georgia red clay I found up the street from my studio. It turned out to be very sandy, but that just added some nice texture to the heart. I ground it up and added it to some matte medium, and painted the outside of the heart.

Here is the painted heart, showing the support for the floor. I also had to paint some of the inside of the heart black, as you can see. 

So I ended up using springs, instead of rubber bands, and a few brass pins to hold the position of the walls in place. A bit of engineering.

A view of the other side. I was pretty proud of solving this puzzle. 

This is how the walls fit together before they're inserted into the heart. 

A piece of foam rubber holds the back wall in place until I can glue in the roof and floor pieces.

Three walls are in. 

And now the floor and ceiling, and figure are in place.
I liked this,  but thought it needed a little something extra......

... luckily I thought of using a bit of gold leaf. This really adds a spark of elegance to the piece.

One last look at the figure before she's inserted into the scene. 

Thanks again for looking!


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