THE BIG WON
- Jacoby Award
Victor Thomas Jacoby was a gifted textile artist specializing in
Victor Jacoby left a bequest in which each year, the North Coast
Cultural Trust selects an individual for outstanding innovation,
elegance and excellence in art.
Here is the proposal for which Elizabeth Berrien won the 2005 Victor
Thomas Jacoby Award, a fellowship of $3,500 administered by the North
Coast Cultural Trust.
based, hand-twisted, non-traditional wire sculpture - animal forms
The medium is a hybrid of freestyle lace-making technique and
structural engineering with infusions of weaving, basketry and other
textile theory. Three · dimensional wire
sculptures, consisting of single strands interwoven into a nucleus,
combine fluid detail with strong structural integrity. Sculptures are
created as lacework exoskeletons, topological relief maps of animal
surfaces. Highly engineered surface tension negates the need for
The technique is ultra low-tech, with no hot joinery. Shaping and
bending is accomplished without pliers. Even large-scale works in heavy
rod are shaped and twisted by hand. The artist draws, using individual
wires as 3D mobile inklines, creating detailed sculptures that satisfy
the eye from any angle, incorporating hidden structural exoskeletons by
deliberate placement of combinations of twists that create a springy
surface tension and inherent structural stability.
For animals subjects, the artist works from life or intensively
researches multiple photographic images to create a composite. Thirty
or more strands of wire are intertwined into a detailed, accurate and
expressive face that lends an intuitive sense that the animal's spirit
is manifest within.
Once a nucleus is established, hundreds of additional lines are spliced
in, following muscle, bone or feather patterns that define the creature
in terms of spirit and energy. There is an awareness of balanced
tension between positive and negative space, fluidity and motion,
delicacy of line and strength of structure, each internal abstract
shape interacting with all adjacent abstract shapes and the sculpture's
overall form. All add up to a disciplined, orderly and balanced whole
· order out of chaos.
Statement · I am sole creator of this
I invented and developed my unique form of wire sculpture as
compensation for being unable to translate the energy lines I see into
conventional drawings. In 1968, wire became an outlet through which I
could convey my insights about nature. When I lost access to a torch, I
faced a challenge: how to make viable wire structures without hot
joins? Initially I looped and twisted tiny forms that barely held
together. I dipped them in liquid plastic that dried as a bubble shell,
locking the forms in shape. For ten years, the size of the bubble pot
restricted my scope to miniature animal ornaments. Then I sold at
fairs, where customers demanded bare wire animals. This compelled me to
organize my twists and loops into a more orderly system. Subconsciously
drawing upon a lifetime experimentation with freestyle weaving,
basketry and lace-making, I gradually developed a hybrid textile
technique for creating strong forms with underlying, repetitive
patterns that follow the inherent patterns of nature.
Freedom from the bubble pot meant I could work large, with heavier
gauges of wire. Large sculptures must be woven with even greater care
for structural integrity · solid enough
to withstand reasonable amounts of bystander contact, as at childrens'
Only rarely does a self-taught artist create a medium, achieve museum
level mastery, and remain unique within the medium. In my 36 year
career as a wire sculptor, no other artist has mastered my complex and
intricate medium. This places a responsibility upon me
· to see how much further I can expand
and explore, while encouraging other artists to join me in pioneering
this virtually untapped medium.
of the purpose and direction artist wishes to pursue
Documentation of wire sculpture history and techniques
Because so few have been published on the topic, I wish to create a
comprehensive book about wire sculpture. The book would cover these
Documentation of spontaneous parallel evolution of wire art as folk art
medium in Slovakia, Africa, India, New Zealand, the Caribbean, and
Documentation of contemporary wire sculptors, i.e. Alexander Calder,
Ruth Asawa, Arlene Fisch, kinetic wire sculptors, etc.
Documentation of the evolution of my specific form of non-traditional
wire sculpture, in terms of problem-solving challenges and solutions.
Guidelines for art instructors to teach wire sculpture at all levels,
from K · 12 to college &
university, with emphasis on exploration, discovery and development of
new forms of wire sculpture.
International directory of wire sculptors, schools offering wire
sculpture workshops, wire sculpture organizations, wire supplies, tools
Bibliography of published materials about wire sculpture.
and Development: Slovakia
I'm linked up with wire sculptors around the world
· we've formed an international guild of
wire sculptors. I'd like to travel to the mountain region of Slovakia
for their annual convocation of wireworkers. They have a 400-year
history of wirecraft and a wire history museum.
and Development: Jewelry and Skins
To experiment more with jewelry design, I need an inventory of
ultra-fine gauge gold and silver wires.
To return to my creative origins, I'd like to acquire and apply skins
to mixed media wire sculptures: hand-made paper, painted silk,
of how the award money will be used
money will be used:
Slovakia trip to research wirework: $2,328.00
Digital camera for documentation of wire sculpture: $800.00
Laptop computer to maintain sculpture database and write book: $1,400.00
Gold & silver wire: $500.00
Materials for experimental skins: $750.00
The items above exceed the amount of the Victor Thomas Jacoby Award.
Should I receive it, I will apply it to equipment and supplies, and
eventually earn my way to the Slovakia research trip.
Class Wire Sculpture
· Elizabeth Berrien (707) 445-4931 · email firstname.lastname@example.org
Content and images
© 1968-2010 Elizabeth Berrien. All rights reserved.
Updated Aug 10, 2010 · this page valid HTML 4.01
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