Artist Date: Beverly Pepper

Yesterday I went on an Artist Date to a lecture by Beverly Pepper. It was in celebration of the Grand Reopening of the Georgia Museum of Art, and a dedication of her sculpture, Ascension, which has been installled in the quad area of the museum.

She opened her lecture with an artist’s statement of sorts, in which she claimed all art is a criticism of life, whether its realistic or abstract. I disagree, for me, art is a dialog with life, not a criticism of life. But I am grateful she shared that because I wouldn’t have realized that I feel I am dialoging with my art so clearly had I not heard her state so concisely what I am not doing, which is criticizing.

She creates these massive sculptures out of cast iron. Which my friend thought was impressive for a woman to work at such a scale. However, I refused to be impressed by that alone, because I know what women are capable of. In fact, her columns and wedges I didn’t really like at all. Beverly said she got over people not liking her art, because that meant folks didn’t understand it, because they were seeing something truely new. However, I think it was the setting of the columns, because they were all in Europe, in these old world architecture settings. The first ones I liked were in Manhattan:

Manhattan Sentinels by Beverly Pepper

From columns she moved into these swoops and curves, and despite the heaviness of cast iron, she was able to convey a sense of movement and lightness. Ascension, installed at the Georgia Museum of Art, is one of these lighter, more curvy, and to me more feminine pieces.

Ascension by Bevery Pepper

At the end of the lecture, she was asked how she felt about folks touching and leaning on her sculpture. She said she couldn’t control that, but she didn’t want people playing with her sculpture, skateboarding on it and what not. Again, she expressed the antithesis of where I am at with my art, because I am making things, jigsaw puzzles, building blocks, that the whole point is to have people play with my art. Or, in the case of my Artsy-Fartsy Onesies, play in my art. Even the tarot cards, I hope to popularize the ancient game, Tarrochi, with my deck, which is made to be played with as much as to do divination. I am grateful to her expression however, because it made me define my views on my art more clearly once again.

The last images of her work were the best, in my opinion. She sculpts with the land, and creates truely magical spaces. She is like my friend, Ariane, who creates labyrinths, but on a freer level of creativity. Beverly Pepper does use the spiral, but she doesn’t stop there. One of the more magical land-sculptures was Cromlech Glen, which reminded me of the Etowah Indian Mounds.

Cromlech Glen by Beverly Pepper

The one thing that is really inspiring to me about her work is that it is all over place. Well, mainly in Europe and America, but still. It would probably take 6 months to a year to travel to see it all. And the public installation aspect of her work really appeals to me, but how to apply it in my own work I have no idea.

All in all, I got a great deal out of her lecture, and I am glad that I went. To see more of her work, Google Beverly Pepper then click on Images. Her website is:

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