Category Archives: Grounds for Sculpture

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Allianc

Michelle Post‘s show of carvings are unusual and beautiful, they look like cast sculptures but they are actually carved from styrofoam. The illusion of heaviness is ironic because of the texture on the outside. Some people think the busts are made from paper mache, the plinths are actually blocks of styrofoam. When the artist grabs a head to show the plinth it’s startling because they look so heavy but are as light as air. Michelle Post explained, “They’re in banged up beat up condition when I get them because they’re cast offs. And they can be in pretty deplorable shape. Gouges and hunks missing out of it but I like that. And I incorporate it into the piece.”

The sense of authenticity is uncanny. “Styrofoam is not normally a sculptural material, it is in the trade, however. Especially for enlargements like the MGM Grand lions out in Las Vegas. They’re cut in styrofoam and coated with material that’s very hard. The cost to have had those cast would have just been astronomical. There are companies now who take your maquette or your sculpture they scan it into a computer and then they have machines cut it out of a large block of foam. Now, you can do a lot of things with it afterward, you can mold it and cast it in bronze or aluminum or whatever or you can actually use the styrofoam.”

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

“For me, I work into the foam directly but it can’t go outside right now. So, these ten pieces here, the heads, are the commission for the Grounds for Sculpture. It’s so great. It kind of grew from eight heads to ten heads. The Sculpture Foundation commissioned it, it’s going to be a permanent installation at the Grounds for Sculpture around the amphitheater. The amphitheater has all these stone seatings that go up this gentle incline and so these guys are going to flank all the stone seating. It’s like they’re watching what’s going on down in the amphitheater.”

“They will be cast in aluminum and painted in my style but not necessarily these colors because they’re going to be treated as a whole. All ten pieces are one piece. They’re just a little bigger than life size.” DoN asked how she was awarded the commission? “Well, that’s sort of a hard one because I’ve seen a lot of former atelier people that have commissions there so I said, ‘Hey, what about me?’ But, what I was doing before wasn’t good enough to be put outdoors. I actually met Mr. Johnson and showed him my work. I like showing him my work. And when he saw these, I had seven of these heads done, and he went just like, ‘Oh my God, this is exactly what I’m looking for!’ and I went, ‘No! Get out of here!'”

J. Seward Johnson II is the founder of Grounds for Sculpture near Trenton NJ, a large sculpture park and he is also a well known sculptor himself specializing in trompe l’oeil painted bronze statues. He said yes to Michelle Post‘s idea to fulfill his idea of contemporary sculpture of portrait busts without being antiquity style. “He calls the the Mucky Mucks with Bruno as the head Mucky Muck and all the others in a hierarchy.” The work will be installed at Grounds for Sculpture in late 2013 after being sent off to be cast. “This is starting to expand how I see these heads now that they’re being put into a narrative.”

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Sculptor Michelle Post explained to DoNArTNeWs the concept of her new work Post Industrial, a mixed media sculpture of a goat pulling a cart with a man, a woman and a blue dog. “The cart is actually a real cart, an antique back from the turn of the century (20th) and the goat is actually reminiscent of that time period. They did have goat carts. They would hook up the goat, put the kids in there because the kids were too tiny to do horse and buggy, so the goat was perfect. This piece came about because my husband says,’Michelle you’ve got that cart. You better do something with it.'”

“The heads were the perfect thing, I just piled a bunch of heads in there and do a goat which now is something different I’m bringing to these pieces. Before it would be just the heads. And the plinths which would be the bodies; the plinths become part of the sculpture so it’s not a pedestal piece. With the goat even the base becomes it’s little foot, if you will. The goat set a whole new set of things to figure out. I’m used to going vertical and goats are horizontal. With legs you can’t just put a big old body down, a plinth, and have it represent the body because, well, it’s different.”

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance

Referring to the busts Michelle is known for she explains, “These guys are done all in one shot and I’ll work on ten to twelve pieces at one time.” You should know the artist has a magnificent octogonal shaped studio on her property near Millville, NJ big enough to build the heroic sized sculptures. “And about ten of them will turn out OK, there’s going to be a couple that are rejects, it just happens that way. And when Post Industrial came around I thought to myself, ‘OK. I’m bringing in something else.’ I do the stand alone pieces but now it’s time to do something different. With the busts they actually get named afterwards, when I’m carving it’s what comes out.”

DoN noticed that there was more of a narrative than just the personality of the busts; the sculpture reminds him of William Faulkner’s book Light in August where the young girl travels in a cart across the country in search of the father of her unborn child. Michelle said, “My husband, Dave, makes up all sorts of stories about it like, ‘Why’s the dog riding in the cart? Shouldn’t he be running along side?’ And they all have names, this is Cuthbert J. Twillie. If you’re an old movie fan you will know who he is. Think of, ‘My Little Chickadee.’ This is Sadie Twillie in the back, she doesn’t like it back there and that is Blue. Blue Twillie. And the goat is Willie. Willie Twillie.”

Tronies: Michelle Post at Da Vinci Art Alliance ends this weekend, 10/28/2012 with a Halloween costume party in the gallery from 2:00 – 5:00pm. 704 Catharine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19147.

Written and Photographed by DoN Brewer

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