Gwen Gibson’s contribution to polymer art was deep and far reaching as an innovator, teacher and accomplished artist. Gibson was a pioneer in the evolution of surface techniques as related to polymer. Her background in painting and textile arts enabled her to apply many of the skills and techniques from those fields to her polymer work. As one of the early explorers of paint and polymer, Gibson initiated many to the process of silk-screening. Her “tear away” etching technique enables a shadowy image transfer that can be highlighted with pigment.
An unerring sense of design and attraction to strong graphic patterns quickly became distinctive elements of Gibson’s style. Her aesthetic influences often derived from ancient cultures. Ethnic and Asian motifs are often present in her work. Jewelry as well as larger objects such inro style containers and wall hung layered panels were all part of her artistic repertoire.
As a teacher and friend to many, her gentle, funny and creative spirit was a continuing inspiration. She will be much missed.
Kathleen Amt, Zodiac Game, detail, 1992 polymer, cloth, paper, elastic, metal overall opened: 11 1/4″ W x 28″ L x 1 3/4″ D game board: 10 5/8″ W x 12 1/4″ L
While unfamiliar to many today, Kathleen Amt was a notable figure in the early years of polymer art. During the late 1980’s and 1990’s the Washington D.C. area was an important hub of polymer discovery. Amt was very much a part of the local polymer community, which among others also included Kathleen Dustin, Nan Roche, and Lindly Haunani.
Amt initially stumbled upon polymer. As the director of the Arts and Crafts Center at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia from 1980-1987, she was looking for family friendly materials when she came across the original white version of Polyform’s Sculpey. However, it was not until she happened to meet Kathleen Dustin in the fall of 1988 that she realized its potential. Continue reading →
Laura Tabakman, Woven Brooch, 2012
polymer, steel wire, 1/2 ” x 1 1/2″ x 1″
Using comparable materials and a repetition of form, Laura Tabakman has explored a similar idea in two very different ways with decidedly unique results. One piece is about mass and containment, while the other is all about lightness and movement. How is it that similar materials handled by the same artist can create such distinctive and yet coherent results?
What is intriguing in this series is Gourley’s juxtaposition of polymer components and nature. Her concept, which is realized through a photograph, explores the idea of what is real and what is not. Has nature morphed into something strange and new or are portions of the composition something else all together? Being removed from reality, via the window of the photographic picture plane, only serves to enhance the illusion.
Jasmyne Graybill, Crested Buttercream Polyps-detail
2008, polymer, muffin pan, 12″ x 8″ x 2″
It is always good to discover artists doing exciting things with polymer. Jasmyne Graybill’s work is part of a recent article by Monica Moses, “Fungus Among Us” in the August/September 2012 issue of American Craft. While not the most appealing topic, albeit relevant for our current hot summer months, Graybill uses polymer to mimic mold, lichen and fungi growing unchecked on what are mostly common household objects. Continue reading →
Elissa Farrow-Savos, How does she get herself into these messes?
2011, 13h x 7w x 11d
polymer, magic-sculpt epoxy, oil paint, vintage surplus army zipper
Telling a story is the heart of Elissa Farrow-Savos’ work. Combining polymer with found objects, Farrow-Savos’ sculptures speak to the eye and the soul. Most of her work is feminine in orientation and explores the timeless tales of women’s lives. While her first love was figure drawing and painting, when Farrow-Savos returned to her studio after a pause for childbearing, she no longer felt satisfaction in 2D work. Floundering, Farrow-Savos happened upon polymer and soon discovered that sculpting provided her with a new form of narration. Continue reading →
Sandra McCaw, Falling Leaves Necklace, 2007, 4″h x 2 1/4″w
Polymer, 23 K gold leaf, gold filled wire, glass beads
Some of the earliest polymer work done in the United States was related to the technique of caning, or constructing a pattern that remains intact through the length of a cylinder. Many polymer artists began with cane work. While some moved on, others became extremely skilled at creating and combining patterns. Sandra McCaw is one of the experts. Continue reading →
Nan Roche, Animal Auguries, c.1998 polymer & elastic, 6.5″h x 3″h x 2″d and 7.2″h x 2″h x 2″d
Racine Art Museum Photo: Penina Meisels
An irrepressible experimenter with a scientific background, Nan Roche has explored and initiated many polymer techniques. Using some of these same techniques, Roche has created distinctive pieces that integrate her art making with her long time interests in ancient civilizations and other cultures. Continue reading →
Rachel Gourley, Rocks on Beach, 2010-2011 10″ x 5″ and 3″ x 2″
Rachel Gourley takes the concept of art and nature literally. The source of much creative, large scale, sculptural work in polymer, Gourley has an affinity for translating natural form into something abstracted and a bit unexpected. Continue reading →