Friday, July 15, 2016

The Past Updated: A Sculpture from 1962 Finished in 2016

Now she has a name:  Sweet Georgia Brown, after the record she's mounted on.

This is her final incarnation.  I liked her better plain but once I added the golden embellishment there was no going back.  So I scumbled the gold paint, removed the bead I had put on her forehead, and added the candle and the record.   

You can see her gradual journey from the following entry a few months ago.  What's a few months, when she started in 1962?

It's all an experiment.  Is it better with the golden vine growing up the curves of my sculpture's torso?  Does it detract?  Or is it just a different concept?  

I liked the effect of painting the fired red terra cotta clay with acrylic, especially since the piece was originally done when I was a teenager, around 1962-ish, and then dug out of storage to paint in 2016.  I remember the model well. She was with us for several weeks, and was kind to me, a kid earning my scholarship to an adult class by being the class monitor.

The contours of her back were a natural for a plant running along her spine and branching out, caressing her curves, the bones of her shoulder blade.

Now I wish I had thought to photograph it before I started painting her.

When I first painted the clay I felt like my color choice reflected the model's personality, which remains very real to me. The brown side of her face is close to her natural skin tone.  She was a woman of color, perhaps African-American and Puerto Rican.  Adding the gold embellishments and the third-eye emblem makes her iconic, archetypal.   I think of the figures on Hindu temples:

Looking back on it, I think I kept this sculpture for so many years because of what the model meant to me, when most everything else I made in that era was destroyed or lost.  Only now can I see that as an awkward teenager it was a gift to experience a middle-aged woman so at home with her body, with nakedness, with sensuality.  I am older now than she was then.  I still remember her.  Unearthing this sculpture from the past and updating it feels like my hommage to her and my thanks.


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