I conceived of this piece when I first moved to Manhattan. I was a bit startled by the power of the curators and the critics and how they all had an anti-figure slant on what they deemed show-worthy. So many of these people felt like everything figurative had already been done, and real art was about being a “Visionary” rather than just showing ability, accuracy or general talent. Thus, the figure had generally disappeared from galleries, museums, important collections, art fairs and other shows. The few of us that were left had no place to exhibit and our voice was not being heard. Many figurative sculptors started teaching, as that was all they could do.
If I wanted to stay in the fine art field, I knew I had to join my contemporaries and make ‘contemporary’ art. I knew that it was time to let go of all the finely tuned skills I had acquired over the years, and just trust in the process of making art. The art world was telling me I had to break down my foundation, let my walls crumble, expose myself completely, and from there I will find the true essence of what I needed to say.
So, literally, I took a perfectly good (wax) sculpture– a piece I had sculpted with precision over several months– an image of a woman meditating in the lotus position, and just dropped it on the floor. I destroyed what I made. I was letting it all go. It was scary. It shattered into so many pieces. My first feeling was, “what have I done?!” Then, I trusted it would all come together like I envisioned.
We cast all the pieces in bronze and assembled the pieces so they floated apart from one another. Then I brought in a lighting specialist and we built a crazy lighting system to make it glow from within. It turned out even better than I thought. And the best is that the image of “Expansion” means so much to so many who see it. I get letters every day! I feel like I really did my job successfully!
From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a box already built for us to fit inside. Our umbilical cord never seems to be severed; we only find new needs to fill.
If we disconnected and severed our attachments, would we shatter our confinements and expand beyond our shell?
Would the world look different? Would we recognize ourselves?
Are we the box that we are inside, and to be authentically ‘un-contained’ would we still be able to exist?
This is the irony of containment. As long as we don’t push on the walls of our surroundings, we may never know how strong we really are.
– Paige Bradley