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In high school, I dreamed of the beauty of animals but couldn't
translate their energy lines on paper. My efforts to draw were clumsy;
I wasn't aware that I'm left-handed. My teacher, Ken Curran, kept
throwing new materials at me til something clicked. Wire clicked big.
It was an inkline I could form directly with my hands. I taught myself
to draw in three dimensions.
I followed the wire, and became a pioneer in the field of contemporary
wire sculpture. Back in the 60's, it was a mostly untapped medium.
There were no rules; no right way or wrong way to get where I was
going. I explored and invented. Thirty-seven years later, I'm still at
wire can be an exercise in exasperation. Wire can be sharp, stiff,
slippery, and downright uncooperative; it's hell on the hands. It took
me three years just to figure out the Dread Hinge Effect. Then I worked
at integrating principles of geometry and engineering into my freeform
lacework technique, to make my structures stronger and more resilient.
My subconscious mind created a hybrid textile approach; it's a blending
of the weaving, basketry and lace-making arts I'd taught myself in
years into the process, I achieved sufficient mastery to weave with a
sense of absolute freedom and spontaneity. I started to work smoothly
and rhythmically. If I focused on just following the lines that defined
an animal, the hidden inner structure would take care of itself.
animals themselves have always been the major element of my life; I've
always had an affinity for nature. I have memories of catching bees in
my bare hands as a five year old. Nowadays I have daily contact with
cats, birds, dogs and horses. My husband Nick and I maintain a flock of
laying hens. We make accommodations for the myriads of varmints that
find this endeavor attractive; everything from skunks and raccoons to
fishers, bears and mountain lions. I'll never stop studying the way
animals move, their elusive spark of spirit and nature.
are born with an inherent grace of balance and beauty. I could watch
them forever. I still don't sketch much on paper; wire is the most
direct way I have of expressing what I see and feel. One of the
mysteries I'm contending with lately is the phenomenon of animal
portraiture, creating a wire vessel as an invitation for the creature's
spirit to visit and look outward. More and more folks are coming
forward to ask me to translate special creature spirits. Sometimes a
cat, sometimes a horse, sometimes a memorable wolf or mountain lion. I
love them all.
sculptures are a source of ongoing adventure. Large commissions take me
all over. There's nothing half as lively as traveling with a life sized
bear, giraffe or dolphin checked as oversized baggage...
I'm in my fifties. I've been immersed in the exploration of wire
sculpture for two-thirds of my life. When I look back across the curve
of time, I see a line of progress and discovery, trial and error. When
I see a sculpture I made, I remember my feelings about the creature in
question. I remember what was going on emotionally in my life while I
twisted those wires. I hear again the music that was playing, or
phrases from whatever nick was reading to me while I bent and twisted
The animals are telling me it's time to move forward again, to blur
some boundaries and travel new paths. There is something in the nature
of Guardianship involved. As I weave my sculptures, I infuse them with
the intent to bring you peace, strength, health and well-being.
- Elizabeth Berrien
Class Wire Sculpture · Elizabeth Berrien (707) 445-4931
· email email@example.com
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