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Am I a Sculptor?

The short answer? YES!

Amanda the Sculptor

Unlike the journey of coming to see myself as a photographer (see my blog), it’s actually really easy for me to say, "Yes, am a sculptor! And I do make sculptures!” In fact, my undergraduate degree is a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) in sculpture from Utah State University. Sculpture is my favorite art form because it lets you physically manipulate materials to create three-dimensional art works. You can use all kinds of materials and tools to create sculptures and that endless variety is another reason I gravitate to sculpture.

In university, I learned to work in a variety of mediums: I sculpted clay figures from live models; and made different molds both from objects and from people. I learned to carve wood, to weld metal, to work in plaster, and even made a sculpture out of a deck of playing cards. With all the resources of the university art labs it was easy to make sculptures and explore different mediums. Out of all the materials I tried in college metal and plaster casting were my favorite. Metal is malleable when hot but strong when it cools, which allowed me to make large, sturdy sculptures. Plaster casting combines the fun of mixing plaster and working with molds; in particular, I love alginate body casting molds because of all the fine details they pick up and transfer to the finished work.

What is sculpture?

Sculpture is different from painting and other two-dimensional art forms because it is a form of visual art intended to be viewed from multiple angles. The challenge to the sculptor is to make the sculpture interesting and engaging to the viewer from all its sides. When most people think of sculpture they imagine a statue – a three-dimensional object in the middle of a room, sitting on a pedestal indoors or outdoors. A statute (or sculpture in-the-round) is only one type of sculpture. Another kind of sculpture is relief sculpture. These are sculptures mounted on a wall, but they have more depth than a painting. They are usually carved or have layers of objects added to the surface to create the sculpture’s element of dimension. One more kind of sculpture (and one of my favorites!) is installation sculpture – better known as installation art. Installation art is where the multiple pieces that make up the work must be installed into a room or space. Because this type of sculpture is made up of multiple objects and truly takes over and transforms a space, it’s more immersive and sometimes even interactive.

As much as I love sculpture it can be difficult to create. It requires more space, more tools, more materials, and therefore more money to make sculptures: The tools and materials are often expensive and can be harder to come by depending on the medium and what is available where you are. Sculptures are also more work to transport as they can be a wide variety of shapes and weight. Exhibiting sculpture is also more complex as you need pedestals or installation and to find the right venue. Because of all this, I only make sculptures occasionally. It takes a long time from concept to completion as you have to carefully evaluate and then gather finances and resources.

My Sculpture

While I don’t make them often, I still have sculptures as a part of my body of work. I have worked hard in various living/studio situations to continue to create three-dimensional work. When I lived overseas, I learned technical vocabulary in another language and worked with other artists to find the materials I needed; I even hired others to work specialized tools to bring my ideas to life. When I haven’t had a garage or access to outdoor spaces, I have found ways to work in an apartment and use friends as models for body casting. So, it is possible to create sculpture without an art lab, I’ve just had to be creative, resourceful, patient, and willing to ask for help.

To be honest, not every attempt at making sculptures has worked. There have been failures along the way as materials turned out not to be exactly what I needed or the resources I had access to were just not sufficient to really bring my idea to life. But part of the creation process is that you learn through trial and error.

Sometimes though, everything comes together, and a work of art is born! Those moments are the best – like when I finished welding a sea turtle sculpture in college or created a relief piece with string and wooden pegs as one of my conceptual artworks. I have had successful casting projects result in plaster works like Come Alive; and one of my favorite pieces is my sculpture Tibetan Village. You can see that metal, plaster, wood, string – all kinds of materials – are present in my sculptures! It all depends on what I have access to and what material works best for conveying the message of the art.

Stay Tuned!

I have plans for more sculptures in the future, so stick around because you never know when another one will be brought to life. The best way to keep in touch is to bookmark my website and to follow me on Facebook or Instagram.

Yours truly,

Amanda Porter


*video is of the sculpture Perigree 1/6 by artist Frank Nackos


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