Elizabeth Berrien · World Class Wire Sculpture and Illustration · (707)445-4931 · THE CALIFORNIA CONDOR
elizabeth berrien's bbc wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.
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Berrien's Work destined for LA Zoo

by Lisa McKinnon
Valley Living Editor
wire sculpture condor

Elizabeth Berrien's California Condor wire sculpture soars over the entry to the Los Angeles Zoo.

LOMPOC, 1988: When she was a child, Elizabeth Berrien decided she wanted to be a zoologist when she grew up. Instead, she became an artist specializing in finding, twisting and turning different types of wire into elaborate sculptures. Not surprisingly, many of her pieces depict animals, from the whimsical domestic cat she entered in the Lompoc Valley Art Association's spring show in April to the 18-foot long Pegasus she was commissioned to sculpt for the Standiford Field air terminal in Louisville, KY.

Now a new commission from the Los Angeles County Zoo promises to bring Berrien's love of sculpture, animals and things zoological together for two projects: creating life-size sculptures of a California Condor in flight and a bongo antelope.

"Both of these animals are symbolic of the Los Angeles Zoo," said Stewart Ritter, development director of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (the non-profit organization that supports the zoo). "We are part of the California condor recovery program and have one of the leading success rates among zoos breeding the bongos." Ritter said the bongo was even used in the zoo's logo for many years.

Berrien's California condor will be suspended by cables above the zoo's main walkway area sometime this summer, Ritter said. The artist has a bit more time to work on the Bongo, since it will go on display in front of the zoo's administration building which is still under construction.

This isn't the first time Berrien has worked with zoos and similar institutions. She sculpted from life at Marine World/Africa USA as an artist-in-residence and has already donated and loaned (respectively) life-size sculptures of a sable antelope and a black rhino head to the Los Angeles County Zoo.

Berrien's condor and bongo pieces are funded by a $10,000 Arco Foundation grant intended to initiate a program of art in the zoo, said Ritter. There are no immediate plans for other art works, but Ritter said the zoo most likely will commission more sculptures because they can withstand the weather.

In the meantime, Berrien is busy researching her subjects and getting the details right. In the process of creating the perfect California condor, Berrien said she had been given rare access to observe the birds in their enclosures at the zoo.

"They're sort of sweet-looking little things. They think they're cute, as a matter of fact," Berrien said, relating her experiences watching a young male condor named Sequoia prance around in front of an older female bird.

Using photgraphs and memories of what she observed through the blind, Berrien wired four different condor heads before she was satisfied with her work. When a woman involved in the condor recovery program was able to tell Berrien exactly which bird it was, the artist knew she was on the right track.

Berrien hopes to have the Condor finished by the end of June, when she'll jump straight into the bongo project. Both pieces will be sculpted using aluminum and stainess steel wire, then coated with paint "to make them last forever", Berrien said.

[Berrien was the subject of a valley Living cover story December 13, 1987]
Elizabeth Berrien twists heavy aluminum rods with her bare hands to sculpt highly detailed, individual feathers onto the wing of her California Condor wire sculpture. Elizabeth Berrien makes a wire wing
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Content and images © 1968-2009 Elizabeth Berrien. All rights reserved. · Updated Oct 22, 2009 · this page valid HTML 4.01

elizabeth berrien's bbc cables wire sculpture illustration wins the BIG WON award for #1 Innovative and Alternative 2008.
THE BIG WON
#1 Worldwide
Alternative/Innovative
#3 Poster Campaign
#10 All Media
elizabeth berrien's bbc cables wire sculpture illustration wins the Clio award 2008.
CLIO 2008
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted cannes gold lions in 2008.
Cannes Festival
Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted ADC gold cubes in 2008
ADC
Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins the coveted Obie Best of Show award 2008.
OBIE
Best of Show
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins two coveted Andy gold awards 2008.
Andy Double Gold
elizabeth berrien's bbc cable wire sculpture illustration wins one show gold pencil awards 2008.
One Show Gold Pencil
elizabeth berrien's wire sculpture illustration wins double grand awards at London International Awards2008.
London International
Double Grand