Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Art Space Talk: Etta Winigrad

I recently interviewed artist Etta Winigrad. Etta is a nationally-renowned sculptor working in clay and mixed media. She is known for her animal-like figures. Her work is open to interpretation.

Etta Winigrad exhibits her ceramic sculpture at numerous galleries across the country. Ms. Winigrad has commissioned work at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, among others. Several publications have featured Etta Winigrad's award-winning ceramic sculpture.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "I knew even as a child that art was an important part of my being especially as a eight year old when my work was selected to hang in the classroom. I started out as all artists do in our society with painting and drawing. Then, as an adult taking classes that I could squeeze into a busy life I literally had an epiphany and realized that I was a 3-D not a 2-D artist. Ideas literally flowed out of me and everything that I could not accomplish with paint became easy with clay. Afterwards, I took every course I could find that taught me something new about creating with clay."
Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?
A. "I have looked at both ancient and current societies for my ideas. Older, much earlier societies provide me with forms, especially those shapes that seem to echo the shapes and forms that we have inherited in our genetic psyches. Current societies speak to me of the action and interaction between people, personally and culturally. I like to start a dialogue with the viewer by offering forms that they recognize, but then by assembling them in a surrealistic manner push them to finish the story out of their own experience."

Q. What past artists have influenced you? Your work seems very surrealistic... is there an influence there?

A. "I have looked at so many artists over the years that there doesn't seem to be any in particular that has been more influential than others."

Q. Out of all of the exhibits you've had... which was the most important one for you? Can you share that experience with our readers?

A. "One of the best exhibits I had was recently at the Delaware Center for Contemporary Art in Wilmington Delaware. That was because the fellow that hung the show did a magnificent job."

Q. On average, how long does it take you create one sculpture?

A. "Creating the work is not what takes time. It is the conception! I can build and visualize the piece in my mind before I actually build it."

Q. Do you have any 'studio rituals'? As in, do you listen to certain types of music while working? What helps to get you in the mood for working?

A. "No studio rituals. I simply start when I know what I want to build. I do keep the studio clean and organized and therefore easier to work in."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "Those who collect my work are usually other artists or collectors of ceramic work. They seem to respond to the factor that allows them to create their own stories besides responding to the forms. Unfortunately, clay does not hold the same place in the art world as does bronze, wood or stone."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how did it help you as an artist? What can you tell us about the art department that you attended?

A. "I have a Bachelor of Applied Arts from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. I went to a University rather than an Art school because I wanted a broader education about our world. My clay education was mainly through continuing education courses and workshops."

Q.Where can we see more of your art?

A. "My work and information is more easily viewed on my website www.ewinigradsculpture.com. Exhibits and information is continuingly being updated."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "As to trends, in our current time I see a constant cycling between abstract and representational work as we tire of one or the other. The philosophy now is anything goes. Only history will eventually pick and choose. As artists, we can only do what feels right to us as individuals or else we are just copying others."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "As to emerging artists, learn everthing you can about your medium and don't be afraid to experiment. A true artist makes work because they have an innate need to, not because they want to be top man on the totem pole or make more money than god."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "My work was censored once. I responded by calling the local newspaper, who published the work on their front page and the info was then picked up by a national organization called People For the American Way and published in their book."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "Every artist has slow or dead periods. It's mainly just a time to step back and wait. Eventually, new ideas come. Sometimes trying a new medium helps."

Q. Why do you create art?

A. "I create art because I have to. There is no choice. It is a passion that hopefully will take me to the end of my days. Everyone needs such a passion."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "Philadelphia, where I live has an active and healthy art scene with schools, galleries, coops and artists learning and practicing all the various mediums."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art? Does religion, faith, or the lack thereof play a part in your art?

A. "Neither politics nor religion has played an important part in my work. My work really concerns people's relations with each other."
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Etta Winigrad. Feel free to critique or discuss her work.
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

1 comment:

.:CushmoK:. said...

Really interesting... thank you for showing !