Learning Library Segments
Kelly BorsheimPrimary Use of Medium: Sculpture
Interviewer: Donna Wetegrove and Jenny Turney
Interview Location: At the Borsheim Studio
Interview Date: 7.29.04
Writer: Jenny Turney
How Did You Get Here?
Kelly began her career with a degree in math and English. She said she never considered art as a way of supporting herself and at that particular time in her life, that was what she needed to do
"During college I took a class in black and white photography, and nothing emerging into something through a chemical process was fascinating to me." With her interest peaking at that point she said to herself, "I'm going to pay for college by getting a job at the photo lab." And that she did.
Where Does Your Inspiration Come From?
"People…who we are and watching how we interact with ourselves."
"Everything around us, other people, internal struggles."
She specifically mentions that she enjoys working with opposites that go together. For instance, "when you're feeling happy and sad at the same time, that kind of concept."
The concept of opposites working together is one of the main reasons she works with stone. "You can get a really soft curve out of a really hard material that's touchable. And there's something that's really awesome about that."
"I think touch is the most intimate sense that we have. With stone and clay, there is no way around it, you have to get close and interact with it."
Does The Material Dictate The Design Or Does Your Design Idea Dictate How The Material Is Used?
"A lot of both, they both have egos. There are times when the stone is saying; 'I'm doing this!' The stone talks to you a lot; it's a living material. Clay will, to the same degree, because it's malleable and so it will flow and push. At some point you just have to go, 'you know, that's not what I intended to do but that texture is really cool'."
What Brings Your Medium To Life?
"Well… I'd like to think that it's my power of observation (laugh), but I suspect it's probably different for each viewer. For some pieces, Kelly says to herself, "Oh, I really did a great job on this!"
Kelly says, a large part of what brings life to the medium lies in the material telling you what it wants to do.
What Tools Are Required In Your Process?
For her painting the tools she uses include oil paint brushes, canvas, a stretcher and of course oil paints.
In her sculpture she uses oil-based clay and then foam as filler. The oil-based, although reusable is quite expensive to purchase. She uses a lot of plumbing supplies for the underlying structure, as well as wire. As far as the actual tools for detailing, she says she prefers to use her hands first, and then use flat tools or flat surfaces after that. For small details she likes to use dental tools or wax working tools.
Do You Consider It Functional Art?
"I guess it depends on how a person functions (laughs) It's obviously not a cup or a table."
Please speak About The Connections In Your Work.
"Since art is an intellectual process, it's all about learning about yourself and learning about where you find your passion."
When asked by an artist in Italy on how to find her voice, Kelly advised her, "If you find yourself doing something, and you're bored with it, don't guilt yourself about it, just let it go. Just set it aside, trash it, and just let it go...and do what interests you now."
Please Summarize Your Entire Process.
Kelly begins by explaining that she gets ideas for sculpture from place where she sees the human figure. For instance one particular sketch she shows is a drawing she made while attending a ballet performance.
One particular sculpture she has called "Ten" came from a one-minute gesture sketch she completed of a girl in 1994. Eight years later she turned that sketch into the anatomy of a body and later a sculpture.
"I don't always know if a sketch is going to become something else. I think it's a way that overtime, I can go back and say, 'you need to pay attention to that."
Do You Recommend What You Do As A Career Choice? … Why?
"I don't think my answer is going to be a very popular one, but it's a decision only that person can make, it's a tough decision to be an artist. Art itself is an exploration of the self, and what kind of person you are. And also being an artist means you're self-employed. Self-employed people -- in any business -- say they work harder than anyone else does who gets a paycheck. It might sound glorified, but it is not."
"If you're willing to put up with a very iffy career, because, let's face it, we're in America. The arts are not seen as anything that is a necessity at all. Art is always the first thing to go we suffer first when the economy goes bad."
Kelly says that one has to figure out what exactly one wants. In her case she grew up with very little money, so learned how to make do with little. She also later married a supportive spouse, who helps her with some aspects of her art business. This made "taking the leap" into full-time art over three years ago much easier.
"It's tough; it's an individual decision, and there's a whole different world between a professional artist and a hobby artist, even a hobby artist who sells."
What Tips Might You Have For Someone New To The Medium? … How Best To Develop Their Interest?
She recommends that one obtain the best technical information that you can. "Keep in mind that if you want to be a professional, you need to see what other successful professionals are doing."
She also says she, "picks as my mentors people who are really good at what they do….part of the way that you know you're an artist is probably that you're in love with process."
"For me, I get a piece that's close to done, if its done in my head, I have no interest in finishing it. Because my brain is on to the next process and the next adventure. I you get into that, you realize that you are always learning something new. If you start churning out the same stuff, you're not learning, you're not growing, and probably, you're not an artist at that point."
"That's a tough one," she says. "Sculpture's kind of a dangerous thing, water based clay is a dangerous thing. When it dries, you can't breathe it." She does mention that however with the oil-based clay she can reuse it.
"Stone is a natural material, but the tools you're using, producing diamond blades is probably not good for anybody. Bronze casting is, cut molds are throw away."
Kelly sees herself as a control freak so it's hard for her to give up a project for someone else to finish. She wants her hands to be on every piece of work that goes out to the public.
"I'm a slow worker, so for me it gives me work in the marketplace while I'm back home creating new stuff. On the other hand, I am a control freak and I want my hands on all my work that goes out." She does mention that she has built a relationship with the 5 foundries in the area. There she feels comfortable telling them, "you do what you're good at, I'm going to come and check it at the end. Even though it's a duplicate process, I still have my control freak satisfied."
"Now I don't see [editions] as necessary for painting, because frankly, you can just whip those out [(relative to sculpture)], but there are a lot of painters that make money off prints and I'm not going to tell them not to. With Americans not willing to pay for art, I think you have to keep doing what you can to survive and keep going."
Where Do You See Your Creativity Evolving?
"I think I might push toward abstract, but every time I push towards that I go, "Oh, I love these baby toes!" Or, "I love that curve in the mouth!" And then I get back to reality and I fight myself and go, maybe that's your gift and you shouldn't fight it. But that's what everybody else is doing, but then you get that one abstract line, and think, I don't know."
She explains that her focus is sharper now that she pursues sculpting full time. She says to herself, "look what you've done last year, you've done this many pieces, your skills got better." She attributes her success to teaching. "It made me better, because I had to repeat the anatomy for someone else."
Borsheim Arts Studio
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