Saturday, March 05, 2011

 
I came across the work of this artist on the Turkish site, Nucleus.  The artist Jennifer Maestre crafts sculpture from hundreds of pieces of a very common object.  Excerpts from a statement she made for an interview are interspersed with pictures of her remarkable work. 



PENCIL ART

Sculptures of Jennifer Maestre 

My sculptures were originally inspired by the form and function of the sea urchin. The spines of the urchin, so dangerous yet beautiful, serve as an explicit warning against contact. The alluring texture of the spines draws the touch in spite of the possible consequences. The tension unveiled, we feel push and pull, desire and repulsion. The sections of pencils present aspects of sharp and smooth for two very different textural and aesthetic experiences. Paradox and surprise are integral in my choice of materials. Quantities of industrially manufactured objects are used to create flexible forms reminiscent of the organic shapes of animals and nature. Pencils are common objects, here, these anonymous objects become the structure. There is true a fragility to the sometimes brutal aspect of the sculptures, vulnerability that is belied by the fearsome texture.


To make the pencil sculptures, I take hundreds of pencils, cut them into 1-inch sections, drill a hole in each section (to turn them into beads), sharpen them all and sew them together. The beading technique I rely on most is peyote stitch.



I’m inspired by animals, plants, other art, Ernst Haeckel, Odilon Redon, mythology. In fact, it isn’t easy to specify particular sources of inspiration. Sometimes one sculpture will inspire the next, or maybe I’ll make a mistake, and that will send me off in a new direction.
    

I started off in the direction of prickly things when I was in my last year at Mass College of Art. It all comes from one idea I had for a box with a secret compartment that would contain a pearl. The box would be shaped like a sea urchin, made of silver. In order to open the box and reveal the secret compartment, you’d have to pull on one of the urchin’s spines. The idea was of something beautiful, sculptural, but that you wouldn’t necessarily want to touch, and that also held a secret treasure. 



Many more examples of her art, along with career and exhibition information, are available at her site www.jennifermaestre.com


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Progress report on the opera:  The director and I had our first design meeting a week ago, although I had briefly proposed a design scheme that had interested her during our previous collaboration for the company in January.  We get along very well and have relaxed, fun meetings at which a lot gets done.  


Working with her on A Place of Beauty is a different experience, however, as I am one half, with Fritz, of the team that wrote the text of the opera.  It makes for an interesting relationship -- as designer (set and lights), I work in collaboration with, but actually for, the director in realizing her vision of the opera while she, in turn, works with, but actually for, the creative team in realizing their vision as expressed in the words and music.  I don't want to make this seem like a problem because the company works in a collaborative rather than a hierarchical manner; people swim between job titles pretty easily, and everybody keeps egos secondary to the goal of the best presentation of the work possible. 


Yesterday, one week after the design meeting, we had our first production meeting with the head of the company, the director, the all-important stage manager (the production's nerve center and the one who knows more about the entire operation than any other single person), Fritz and me.  I had made a small preliminary model of the scenic elements, we all had our own list of questions, huge amounts got decided (the design for the set was approved, for one), and we then toured the 309-seat theater that has excellent sight lines, fine acoustics, and a first-rate technical installation.  There's very comfortable "stadium seating" as in the newer movie theaters that means never having someone's head blocking your view of the stage.  


I will begin the construction and painting process in about a week.     


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Here's a wonderful bit of silliness from The Onion, neatly skewering the fear tactics of the far Right about gays and lesbians. 

Marauding Gay Hordes Drag Thousands Of Helpless Citizens From Marriages After Obama Drops Defense Of Marriage Act

February 25, 2011 | ISSUE 47•08
 
WASHINGTON—Reports continue to pour in from around the nation today of helpless Americans being forcibly taken from their marital unions after President Obama dropped the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this week, leaving the institution completely vulnerable to roving bands of homosexuals. "It was just awful—they smashed through our living room window, one of them said 'I've had my eye on you, Roger,' and then they dragged my husband off kicking and screaming," said Cleveland-area homemaker Rita Ellington, one of the latest victims whose defenseless marriage was overrun by the hordes of battle-ready gays that had been clambering at the gates of matrimony since the DOMA went into effect in 1996. "Oh dear God, why did they remove the protection provided by this vital piece of legislation? My children! What will I tell my children?" A video communique was sent to the media late yesterday from what appears to be the as-yet unidentified leader of the gay marauders, who, adorned in terrifying warpaint, announced "Richard Dickson of Ames, Iowa. We're coming for you next. Put on something nice."

Comments:
those are gorgeous pieces of artwork.
how clever!
 
Jennifer Maestre's studio is within walking distance of our house in an old middle school that was converted into artists studios and a small theater. Her work is stunning, isn't it? We try to make it to the open house every fall and have talked to her a few times. As you can imagine, her studio is a riot of tiny pencil stubs and fantastic sculptures. I'm thrilled to see her work displayed around the area and to see her fame spread a little!
 
Amazing, and what a wonderful way to see how such a common item can be used to create such a beautiful piece of art!
 
Michael -- I was struck by the great artisanship of the pieces and the range of shapes and textures she gets just from using the pencils.

Liz -- I am very happy to be to spread familiarity with her work around a little. Next time you see her, please offer my compliments.

Andrea S. -- Delighted to have you visit and comment!
 
Those are really awesome pieces of art. What detail and I can't even imagine the time spent on those things.
 
Rolfe & I love Jennifer Maestre's work. Thanks for sharing.

I love hearing about the process of the opera.
 
This is an amazing post! The piece about pride - the Egyptian lovers - Jennifer Maestre'e prickly materpieces - and the terror of the homomarauders. Thank you so much for sharing all this.
 
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