Posted by: groundsforsculpture | January 30, 2011

Gallery Talk by Emilie Brzezinski

By Judy Klotz , Docent Volunteer

Emilie Benes Brzezinski’s inspiring and illuminating artist’s talk and slide show on Sunday, January 23 provided insights and contexts for her current Re-Forestation show in the Domestic Arts Building.   She describes herself as a “modernist”, by which she means that she explores materials and sculpts such that the result makes her process evident.  Since 1989 she has worked exclusively with tree trunks.  Most of her finished works are large scale.  Ms Brzezinski creates ‘vertical wedges” from the trees that she gathers from her neighborhood near Washington DC and from her extensive travels.

To sculpt, Ms Brzezinski uses axe, chisel, and chain saw.  She said these tools are safe when used properly, and can be wielded without tiring when working with instead of against gravity.

Looking up at her large finished sculptures elicits feelings of respect.  Some of the exterior of the original tree is always left visible.  What she finds inside the tree, such as insect nests and evidence of weather stressors, reveals the history of the living tree, including how it coped with nature.  Her work highlights the grains of the wood and is influenced by its toughness.   Sometimes she adds color.  Where the wood tends to crack, she reinforces it with metal, allowing these reinforcements to be evident as part of making visible the process of her creation.

Her works are often “site-specific”, and I was struck by how the photos of her work, particularly views of them in snow and with various lightings,  remind me of why Grounds For Sculpture is unique: the interaction of sculpture and its environment create experience, beauty, and meaning beyond the sum of its components.

Emilie Brzezinski is the creator of “Lintel” which has been in the park for many years.   Lintel, an earlier work by the artist, was created from one tree trunk and cast in bronze at the Johnson Atelier.

In addition to vertical tree trunks, Ms Brzezinski has created many bowl-like forms, which she considers universal symbols.

Emilie Brzezinski is constantly exploring ways to deal with issues of  preservation of her work: varnishing or shellacking can introduce unwanted changes in the wood’s appearance, and left untreated many of her works do not last more than about ten years.

She told me on the day before her talk that she is interested in having more of her large works cast.  We will all be enriched as we follow the further development of her wonderful creations.

Re:Forestation Emilie Brzezinski is on exhibition from January 22-April 10, 2011 in the Domestic Arts building.

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