Writing as Prelude to Sculpture with Sandy Frank: Rebirth, Snake Woman, and The Nest

Sculptor Sandy Frank shares some of her process insights behind the making of the three sculptures featured this week at The Fertile Source (sculptures can be viewed at http://fertilesource.com/?p=703).

What role does writing play in the creation of new work?

I do draw in my journals extensively, but I also have to write. Writing is part of the grounding process; it helps me get out all the other noise in my head so I can reconnect with myself and my verve. It might take three pages or more. Sometimes I want to do drawings with words beside them and sometimes words will come because I’m doing a drawing.

A lot of times, I’ll have a vision of what I want to make, but words help to refine the concept, to link and expand what it will be about, since it is easier to write out an idea than to sculpt out an idea. If I write about all the places a piece might move in (should I put wax on the outside? wax on the inside?), then I can weed out and prioritize the ideas to fit the windows of time I have in which to create.

I often do several sculptures that go together in a series; writing after I’ve finished the work helps me organize where I went in the process. I do track my dreams and take notes on the artwork of others.

Can you tell us the back-story of creating Rebirth (earthenware: oxides, wax, ground clay, 10”x7”x6”)?

Prior to making Rebirth, I had done some pregnancy sculptures based on a woman model in the eighth month of her pregnancy. I had also completed some sculptures of women with their new babies.

But those sculptures had nothing to do with the way you are so totally different after you go through the experience of giving birth. This sculpture is about how much you change, and how much you have to change: the actual rebirth of one’s self through the birth of one’s child.

How was making this sculpture of your own rebirth experience different than sculpting pregnant models?

When you are sculpting from a model, it’s not that you can’t get the feeling of pregnancy or how beautiful that process is, but you are more focused on the present moment experience and so ideas and concepts might emerge while you are sculpting.

Once you have the baby yourself, you have that visceral experience; you know what it all involves, not just that it is beautiful. You see the whole more easily and are sculpting from inside that experience.

When, in the chronology of these three sculptures, did you make Snake Woman (earthenware: graphite and wax 8”x16”x2”) ?

I made her first—and before I had a baby. Actually I think I was pregnant. The snake woman is about change. I was trying for a representation of the Hindu goddess Kali, or Durga, creator/destroyer (the destroyer of the old life and the creator of the new). She comes across as violent on the one hand and that’s why she is dark.

On the other hand the snake is supposed to be that symbol of change, that after the destruction of the old can come the rebirth, a time when you’ll eventually recreate yourself after having birthed a child.

What can you tell us about The Nest (earthenware, sticks, and talc, 12”x16”x 12”)?

Continuing with our chronology, this sculpture was made third and is about finally finding some freedom after having a child and being so consumed by having a baby. In this depiction, the nest is the home, where you lay your eggs.

Here you’ll see the body emerging from the nest. Not fully emerging, because it is still attached to the nest, and not with full arms. But what arms are there are “wingish”, for now you start to sense some freeing up.

The Nest shows one’s link of previous freedoms with one’s obligations to family while still feeling somewhat burdened by the nest. There is a point at which you don’t feel like you will have that freedom again (that freedom you had before you had a child). Thus the arms aren’t fully formed, but their “wingish” quality is meant to convey a feeling of up-lifting.

The color of the clay comes through some of the figure’s white finish; you’ll notice scratches as well, more towards the bottom of her body, where she is worn from the chaos. The top of her body remains more pure and white.

Are you working on other sculptures along these themes?

Yes. The relief sculpture Snake Woman was a trial run for a larger relief sculpture I have in mind featuring a large tree and a number of women entwined in the branches, trunk, and roots. In the very top of the tree are the “ladies in waiting,” the maidens “hanging out” all over the limbs. I envision a pregnant woman in the middle of the relief making an offering, and older women in the roots of the tree.

To read a related interview with Sandy Frank regarding her "Beings of Light" series of sculpture, visit: http://www.realityhacker.net/?p=106. Visit Sandy Frank at: www.sandyfrankfineart.com or via her blog: www.sandyfrankstudio.blogspot.com

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Comment by Madge Woods on June 23, 2010 at 8:14pm
I thought your were the sculpture person but now I see you were interviewing Sandy. Amazing pieces. Thanks for sharing this. I really like Sandy's work.
Comment by Madge Woods on June 23, 2010 at 8:11pm
I also paint and I think one inspires the other, at least for me. I like your blog sites.Thanks for your wonderful comments.


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