Posted by: groundsforsculpture | May 28, 2010

Excerpts from an Interview with Gloria Vanderbilt

Interviewed for EXPRESSIONS by D.J. Haslett
Previously published in EXPRESSIONS newsletter in the Winter of 2009

EXPRESSIONS: You have worked in many artistic mediums, both performance and visual, in your career. What inspired your DREAM BOX series, two of which are on display at Grounds For Sculpture?

GLORIA: About ten years ago I started having interesting dreams which related to objects I would later come upon in the flea markets I frequented. I brought them to my studio and assembled the dreams into some kind of order in Plexiglas boxes so that they told a story, which is why I named them DREAM BOXES.

EXP: Your piece in the park is HEART’S DESIRE, and patrons have many questions about it, especially about the items in the box. Can you give us some insight into the items including the two large dolls; the woman facing the large doll; the dolls in the jar; the heart in the clamp; the blond-haired doll; the dollar sign; the arrow with the number 15 on it; the wooden carved figure; the skull, dice, and snake; the glass castle; the stars in one of the lower boxes; the ice cube in the box; and what appears to be a focal point; the red glass heart?

GLORIA: HEART’S DESIRE Sculpture… The central theme of HEART’S DESIRE is a yearning that does not seem to end. There is no it,” there’s just the longing FOR “it.”

The dolls in the jar—babies waiting to be born?

The stars in the back lower box—hope?

The glass castle—home is your castle?

The ice cube in the front box—hopes melting?

The large standing doll, arms outstretched—compassion/healing?

The armless woman facing the compassion doll—pain/loss/despair/grief/loneliness?

The dollar sign—money?

The small blond-haired doll looking into the box that holds the crystal heart—Marilyn Monroe?

The heart in the clamp—it?

The wooden carved figure reaching out to the heart in the clamp—the yearning for “it”?

The snake—evil ready to sting the doll reaching for it?

The skull—death?

The arrow pointing to the skull—an arrow pointing to death?

The number 15 and the two dice—random chance?

Gloria Vanderbilt, Heart's Desire, 2008. Plexiglas, mixed media. Courtesy of The Sculpture Foundation, Inc.

EXP: Does the pathway leading to HEART’S DESIRE have any significance to the piece, such as finding your way?

GLORIA: Seward Johnson saw a 24” by 24” DREAM BOX at Joyce Carol Oates’ house. It was his genius that had the concept to enlarge a DREAM BOX into a 6’ by 6’ sculpture and to install it in a forest of trees approached by a winding path.

EXP: What is your overall interpretation of HEART’S DESIRE?

GLORIA: The red crystal heart centered in the sculpture: the longing that does not seem to end — the longing for it?

EXP: What would you like people to experience when they view your work?

GLORIA: Surprise/puzzlement/fun/curiosity/wonder of the heart/see something in a new way.

EXP: Your art education included attending the Art Student League in New York which has been attended by many famous artists such as yourself. Were you influenced by any of these artists, and which artists did you find the most interesting?

GLORIA: At the Arts Students League I was blessed to have as a teacher the great Robert Beverly Hale. These words to his students had tremendous impact:

I intimated that the artist doesn’t see things as they are, he sees things as he is. I warned them that there was nothing more dreadful than imagination without taste. I also told them that the life of the artist was desolate and dangerous, and finally I told them, in the words of Camus, that I was convinced that a man’s work was nothing but the long journey through life to recover, through the detours of art, the two or three great and simple images that first gained access to his

EXP: Do you have any advice for emerging artists on promoting their work?

GLORIA: Keep working.

EXP: Can you tell us what pieces you may be working on now, or where we can see some of your exhibits in the future?

GLORIA: Sponsored by the Southern Vermont Arts Center, my paintings can be viewed on


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