Selection from the Collection: Ford/Forlano Figure

Steven Ford & David Forlano, Figure, 2003
wall sculpture with 2 brooches
13.25″h x 12.25″w x 2.25″d
We all know the old phrase, “to raise the bar,” which first described high jump and pole vaulting competitions at track meets. A new definition can be witnessed each November at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) Craft Show when you visit the Steven Ford/David Forlano booth. Each time they exhibit, they seem to surpass some previous artistic limit.

In 2003, for opening night, they arranged their booth as an exhibition gallery rather than a sales environment. Instead of displaying the expected, their normal expansive collection of necklaces and brooches, they presented just nine pieces, each a dazzling wall sculpture with inlaid jewelry in a project they called NINE.

Figure is one of those sculptures. Can you find these two inlaid brooches hidden within the piece?

The upper brooch on the right measures 4.5″h x 1″w x .25″d

The lower brooch measures 4.5″h x 2.5″w x .25″d

Figure was inspired by Cubist paintings and collages from the early 20th century. Like the other nine pieces, it incorporates many media including burlap adhered with rabbit skin glue to plywood, black gesso, graphite, wood printing letters and polymer set into silver work by Maryanne Petrus. Here’s a close-up of the inlaid polymer fragments in the larger brooch.

Since my husband and I were also exhibiting that year at PMA, we were lucky enough to see Figure right after it was hung and before ticket holders were admitted for opening night. A “sold” sticker went up immediately, and the sculpture has been proudly displayed in our home for the last six years.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.