Name: Rebecca Rose
Studio Location: Lady Diana Studios: Orlando, FL
Practice: Sculpture & Metalsmithing
Please give a brief bio. (Where are you from? How did you start? Is your background in art?)
In college at NAU, I saw similarities in both my Sculpture Foundry classes and my Jewelry/Metalsmithing classes. In both cases we started with an idea, and transformed that idea from concept to reality out of wax and burnable objects. In both cases we plaster coated the original, kiln fired it, melted metal, and poured it into the negative space. I saw that sculpture and jewelry were the same, interchangeable. The only difference between the two is that one form of art was heavier, more apt to be immobile and decorative, and that the other form was smaller, and more apt to be mobile and functional. What was missing was a way to bridge the two. I created my first Sculpturing in 1999 and have been plowing away since.
What continues to inspire you and keep you motivated in the studio?
I’ve kept motivated by systematically removing distractions around me. Ten years ago my focus was too broad, and I was being pulled in too many directions; television, work, painting, sculpture, printmaking, life-size installations, building lego cities, I was everywhere. And because of it, I found didn’t have a solid body of work, one over the other. Over the past five years, I removed everything out of my studio except my sculptures and sculpture related items, and it helped. Out of sight, out of mind. When I enter my studio I see only my Sculpturings, and don’t feel pulled away from them anymore.
How do you work physically?
Hunched over my trusty JH Rosberg bench from 1901, sporting chemistry class goggles to shield from flying wax, plastic, and metal shards. A pair of strong prescription contacts and a mounted magnifying glass help me create works on a miniature scale. My fingers have plenty of small scars from Dremel drills catching skin, and I used to feel like Johnny Tremain working with my wax injector, my arms and hands getting sprinkled with boiling wax. I’m much more cautious and aware of safety now, the lost wax casting process can be a dangerous one when not exercising great caution.
What do you find frustrating/ enjoy about your process?
It usually takes two or three casting attempts before a piece casts perfectly. For each finished piece, it might have been waxed multiple times to correct air pockets, carved again, re-invested with plaster, kiln fired, and cast all over again. The amount of detail put into the works embrace minutia, undercuts, lots of negative space, drastic thin to think areas, all kinds of variables that put the piece at risk for missing heads, arms, insect legs, wings, etc. Thankfully I have met experienced casters along the way who have helped and often send the most frustrating pieces to them for advice. When it casts perfectly, I tool into the metal, clean up sprue bumps, throw it in the tumbler for polishing and extract a brilliant, shiny new Sculpturing, my enjoyment for the process surfaces.
What is your medium/ media of choice? Why?
I enjoy the idea of sculpture being so small and mobile that you can take it with you, and share it with others as it moves with it’s owner.I use precious metals to help guarantee collectors that the work will financially appreciate over time. Removing the guesswork and worry of investing releases the monetary focus on the work so more focus is on the themes, skill, compositions and messages themselves.
How has your practice evolved over the years?
Earlier in my career I would solely make unique, one of a kind pieces. I primarily still do, but I’ve also begun to widen my approach and equate it with two dimensional artists, in that the unique sterling silver Sculpturing is like an original painting, as an edition of Bronze Sculpturings are to limited edition prints of the same painting. Some Sculpturings are still unique, and during the concept and design phase the uniqueness is taken into consideration, while some are intentionally designed as limited edition pieces.
The presentation and display of the work has also evolved, growing from a tiny, velvet lined box to a hand blown, museum quality glass cloche dome and base, elevating the piece with an armature to have it float in mid air. Magnifying glasses near the pieces not only help guests and collectors see the detail clearly, but makes the experience between the art and the viewer more interactive and intimate.
Tell us about your creative and conceptual process. Where do your ideas come from/relate to?
Each piece begins with a philosophy/way of life that describes a current event, and I pair it with words that contain the word “ring”, usually as a suffix. As an example, “Puppeteering”, is about the Occupy Movements of last fall:
The three figures on the left, ranging in age and gender, represent the majority view throughout the summer and fall of 2011. They band together, pointing the finger of blame, responsibility, and caution to the government’s puppeteering of our future. Government is represented by the soldier who rides the back of a big baby, representing our future which, at times, our nation’s future can seem like a big bumbling baby that needs to be led around. The pitchfork and hand trap the baby to symbolize the fine line between the evil actions of politics and the hasty actions of the public.
Who/ what motivates and influences your work and why?
The greatest motivation is that this work is so much a part of me, I have no choice but to pursue it. I think about it daily, and look forward to seeing and working on it. There’s a true love affair between myself and the series.
The body of work is also a nod to eccentric collectors of silver sculpture like Sam Wagstaff, whom desired to bring an artistic spotlight on silver sculpture as he did with photography, but died before having the chance.
Real life situations that inspire you?
Our world is too funny not to capture it in art. That’s how we cope, right? Real life situations inspire and shape my work daily, the long-term viability and relevance is built into the original concept. While emphasis on design is present, sculptural form and substance of message definitely takes priority, whether politically, allegorically, or satirically driven. World events, celebrations, and challenges evolve with each passing year, and my work will reflect the changes of our real time world along with classic ideas and hopes of people.
How do you think/ want people to respond to your work?
This is a tricky subject for sure, some see it as jewelry and only that, and some deem it craft instead of fine art. Thankfully, those with a broad vision and broad understanding of art see it as sculpture as well as a piece of art that can be worn, and those same minds have encouraged me to continue because of this clever, fresh approach they haven’t seen before. I call the work Sculpturings to give equal and due credit to the genres, not deeming it one genre more than the other.
That’s how I hope people will respond, that the body of work bridges the gap between the two genres: Sculpture can be mobile instead of commonly viewed as heavy and immovable, and that jewelry can be accepted as fine art and a conduit of substance, meaning, and message.
What was the last show you saw that knocked your socks off?
I attended the Miami Basel this December connecting mostly to Freidrich Kunath’s isolated sculptures and sketched paintings on larger than life notebook paper, something we all relate to as kids, doodling on lined sheets of paper in school. At Scope NYC this March I found some true gems nestled on the walls of Red Truck Gallery, as a fan of miniatures, Jason D’Aquino’s tiny graphites on found objects fed my eyes full. Thinkspace Gallery’s selection at the LA Art Show in January was strong, knocking the socks off my feet and onto the ceiling, their roster of represented artists and the works produced are undoubtedly shaping today’s movements, much due respect to them.
Some upcoming shows that have stirred anticipation and I hope to view: Botanica at Genome Gallery this summer, as well as XL Gallery’s Faces show in Orlando near the end of June- upon hearing the announcement I had flutters of excitement in my gut the entire day, really anticipating that one.
Current adventures/ future plans? What’s next?
Some new works inspired by ideas of perseverance, tolerance, decadence, and acceptance. I’m very excited about the new grouping of works, and obsess about them daily, so I think it’s a good sign! I also unveiled a Bronze Collection in Los Angeles last month and some Sterling Silver Sculpturings are currently showing at Maximillian Gallery in West Hollywood.
Any advice to other artists? What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
Any advice I can give? Hmm..
Don’t depend on luck, depend on strategy, dedication, and research.
Advice I’ve been given: Alan Bamberger from Artbusiness.com
said to me the other day:
Be open to opportunity and when something unusual happens, make the most of it, and don’t limit yourself with imaginary cognitive constraints.