Life Without Motion: A Conversation with Sculptress Carole Feuerman by M. Pitter


In today’s world, many people would agree that what is deemed ‘reality’ exists only as far as the collection of each person’s subjective range of awareness, whether physical or metaphysical. But then, some could say “No: Reality is an objective truth concurrent with the passage of time in which all people, things and places exist.” Whichever notion of the Real you find best, both have unifying factors. The fundamental qualities of our existence, affording us the status of being living humans, consist of motion and narratives.

"Next Summer" by C. Feuerman. Painted Bronze and Stainless Steel. 39 x 54 x 50″ 2012.
“Next Summer” by C. Feuerman. Painted Bronze and Stainless Steel. 39 x 54 x 50″. 2012.

In the sculptures of Carole Feuerman, that have been popularly dubbed as hyperrealist, she exhibits people in their natural states, she gives them life through the simulation of movement made possible by the finesse of her craft, molding angles into human form in a way to reveal ourselves to ourselves. When I asked her: “What is the difference between your pieces and, say, the structure of a mannequin?” She scoffed at the possibility that the two could strike any possible resemblance. She detailed that mannequins have no real texture but that they are composites of distorted shapes, that they do not reflect real people with emotion or movement. “They don’t say anything,” she says. “Meaning cannot run through the mannequin.” Carole Feuerman’s sculptures have an ironic ability to give viewers insight as to what it means fundamentally to be alive.

Conversing with Feuerman, I asked her:

“Where do the faces in your sculptures come from?”

“Sometimes people pose for me; oftentimes the faces come from within me. It depends on the concept I choose.”

In regards to her most recent concept portraying female swimmers, I asked her what motivated her into this concept. She expressed to me the idea that water on the female body made manifest constant motion in ways that mannequins will always fail to do. In her words: “Water is a natural element that unites all mankind and all living things.” This unity inflates her sculptures with the breath of reality needed to move her audience.

The realism of her pieces transcends the mere visual likeness of human beings. Her sculptures are even expected to interact with viewers to a certain degree. After noticing that each of the swimmer’s eyes were closed, I asked her why this was a recurring feature.

“For one, I wanted to be convey the feeling of serenity and success. Also, the staring figure would cause the viewer to feel self-conscious. It bothers me when I see eyes opened on sculptures of humans.”

I found it interesting that she believed it possible to instill within her inanimate objects the capacity to invoke intersocial sentiments in a person as if that inanimate object were actually living! The viewer automatically becomes the interlocutor in a discourse with the sculpture, a discourse radiating from the demeanor of the sculpture, a demeanor meticulously reflecting natural human behavior and yet without any motion at all. Reality is recreated in that the characteristics of humanness or the criteria for what is required to be essentially human is for the most part satisfied. This achievement of hers comes to pass through the choice of her concepts: she sculpts dancers, swimmers or gregarious situations to make movement and action clearly apparent to the viewer. She explains how her “sculptures offer a unique interaction with the viewer.  This is dependent upon location (public space vs. gallery) as well as subject matter.”

Her work has extended from the realm of fine arts to that of the commercial. Some years ago, she was commissioned by Absolut Vodka to sculpt some scenes of people enjoying the famed beverage.

Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Absolut Vodka
“Absolut Feuerman”. Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Absolut Vodka.
Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Absolut Vodka
“Absolut Feuerman”. Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Absolut Vodka (with Feuerman featured kneeling).

She stated merely that “commissions are fun” when describing her experience under the patronage of Absolut Vodka. She has also done work for Swarovski among others:

"Capri with Swarovski Cap". Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Swarovski.
“Capri with Swarovski Cap”. Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Swarovski.
"Capri with Swarovski Cap". Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Swarovski.
“Capri with Swarovski Cap”. Sculpture by C. Feuerman on behalf of Swarovski.

Carole Feuerman has been publicly active for the past 30+ years. Her work is exhibited in Jersey City and in Manhattan.

Foundation, Feuerman's outdoor studio in Jersey City.
Foundation, Feuerman’s outdoor gallery in Jersey City.
Foundation, Feuerman's outdoor studio in Jersey City.
Foundation, Feuerman’s outdoor gallery in Jersey City.

Recently, she has been approached by certain Olympic swimmers for their bodies to be sculpted. She expressed interest in this project. While she continues the tasks that she has given herself as an artist who must create, she welcomes certain projects brought to her attention only if there is room to fit the project within the bounds of her current concept. The great detail that her work requires does not seem to pose any issues even given the quantity of work she must do in order to fill studios. She expresses how “the process is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but seeing the finished piece makes it all worthwhile. There is a quote I like by Henry Moore: ‘There’s no retirement for an artist. It’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.'”

Carole Feuerman in front of a print by her entitled "Shower [full face]".
Carole Feuerman in front of a print by her entitled “Shower [full face]”.
To see more of Carole Feuerman’s work, visit her website: http://www.carolefeuerman.com/

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