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March 25, 2011

Here we are for this month’s merry-go-round topic, wherein eleven women take a look at the chosen topic, each one from her own personal angle. Up this month: an artist that inspires us.

For me, it’s definitely ancient and non-western art which has affected my work the most. I admire the sense of order and the technical mastery of the ancient Egyptians. I could gaze forever at the ivory masks from Benin. Ancient Peruvian textiles fascinate me. The Minoan snake goddess was my role model when I was at university! To name but a few. The sacred quality speaks to me, brought up in a society where rampant consumerism was the highest ideal for many.

But if I had to name an individual artist whose work has held my ongoing attention ever since I first saw his work, it has to be the Swedish artist, Claes Oldenburg. “Oh”, you might say, “the one who makes the giant soft sculptures of everyday objects?” That’s right! He was making my favorite pieces when I was a small girl, and I didn’t know who he was until I studied Art History. His objects are everyday, but what I find amazing is the way he forces us to look at them differently. He manipulates size and/or structure and we can’t help but smile in front of his work. I love the humor and the sheer fun of his pieces.

I remember seeing his giant typewriter eraser at the National Gallery in D.C.; for me it was the only way to make such an object interesting…make it huge!

My favorites of his soft sculptures are the bathtub and the fan. He takes away the outer structure and the object seems to be melting on the spot. Of course he had to devise an inner structure of an armature and padding for the fan (so that it isn’t just a pile of black vinyl), almost like a human skeleton. So what if it sags a bit; so do humans sometimes. I think as he ‘takes out’ the hard structure, he adds a bit of human softness and vulnerability.

I read recently that his first wife, Pat Muschinski, sewed many of his soft sculptures. I had never wondered how they were made, but it doesn’t surprise me, a woman can make amazing things with a sewing machine.

Don’t forget to read about the other merry-go-round members’ inspiring artists! We are in different time zones, so if their post isn’t up yet, check back a little later.

Monika at Red2White
Ruth at Birdland Creations
Kim at Vilt a la Kim
Sara at Crafts of Texture
Mariana at Florcita
Agathe at Le Bar du Vent
Mitsy at ArtMind
Jen at Painted Fish Studio
Samantha at Vintage is for Lovers
Bethany at Dirksen Dabbles

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