“Edge of Extinction”, an exhibit nearing its final week (June 14) at the Pence Gallery in Davis, California, features the sculpture of Lisa Reinertson, who recently visited AAU’s School of Fine Art Sculpture as a guest speaker last November. The centerpiece of “Edge” – an exquisite life-size sculpture of a young girl holding an oil-soaked pelican – made a profound impression on those entering the exhibit, and inspired us to ask the artist some questions about the piece:
Of all the pieces in your exhibit, the girl with pelican seems to embody the title – “Edge of Extinction” – most effectively. How do you feel she relates to your previous work, and how is she different?
LR: I have worked with imagery in my sculptures addressing the relationship of humans and animals over many years, but have not often referenced a specific event. In creating the sculpture “Neptune’s Daughter”, it felt necessary to me to address the specific events of oil spills and the impact on wildlife. Although, in giving the artwork the title “Neptune’s Daughter” I was opening up the concept to the timeless issues of our relationship with Nature and responsibility for stewardship.
“Neptune’s Daughter” elegantly illustrates the plight of sea birds in a world of ever-increasing human activity. Can you elaborate on why you chose the specific model and pose you did for this piece?
LR: I wanted a young/adult/woman — a “Daughter” — who holds the mess our generation has created in her hands. She looks back over her shoulder confronting those responsible… asking what have we done — what do we plan to do? She embodies “one who is young and closer to nature; the daughter of the sea… whose world we are despoiling.
The glazing takes on special meaning here – was that part of your original inspiration for this piece?
LR: Yes. A photo of an oil drenched pelican with this brown dripping surface inspired the piece and the glaze.
Were there any specific challenges to sculpting or firing this sculpture?
LR: The sculpture is separated in three sections that will fit in my gas kiln. I needed to engineer the artwork in a way that it can be stabilized. The legs have threaded rods glued into the interior that extend up through the base of the skirt which it is then bolted onto. The top of the figure fits on the top of the skirt with an internal flange, similar to how a teapot lid fits onto the pot (but this is a usual process for me to use when building my standing ceramic figures.)
What part of the process in creating the girl with pelican do you want to revisit in a forthcoming piece?
LR: I actually used this imagery of “girl with oil spill drenched pelican” on two other artworks. One is a wall piece that has only the top of the figure with bird in arms. The other use of this imagery is on a large (7ft. tall) sewer pipe that I sculpted in bas relief. This was created at Mission Clay Pipes. Oh — AND I have cast the original in bronze and have given the bronze an overall blue patina with the brown on the pelican…