Over the holidays we will be highlighting a number of members of Buffalo Society of Artists (BSA), so that you might support them by purchasing original works of art. Thanks to Paul Rybarczyk at BSA for helping me put these together. Visit the BSA website to learn more about the institution – one of the oldest continually operating arts organizations in the country. First up on our list is Deborah Stewart:
Deborah Stewart was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but grew up in a rural community outside of Philadelphia, PA. After working as a studio potter and modern dancer for about 15 years, (though with degrees in Biology) she returned to school and earned a BFA in Ceramics from Buffalo State College in 1991 and an MFA in Visual Art /Sculpture from Vermont College (then of Norwich University) in 1993. She has taught Ceramics and 3-Demensional Design at several colleges in the Western New York area and has been a resident artist at the Buffalo Art Studio since 1996. Currently she is teaching ceramics classes at the BAS and volunteering as a docent at the Burchfield Penney Art Center in addition to making clay sculpture that reflects the two major influences in her life: nature and dance.
Her work has been exhibited throughout the country, with her first one-person exhibit in Ohio in 1996, and is represented in several personal and institutional collections. She has received two awards from the Buffalo Society of Artists as well as the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Design from Buffalo State College.
Stewart’s other main interests are literacy and how it can be facilitated by interaction with art, and hiking in as many parts of the country and world as possible. She lives and works in Buffalo, NY.
The sculptural forms I make are organic in the sense of being strongly curvilinear or plantlike and in their sense of breath and internal disquiet. These ideas derive from my background in biology as well as engagement with the physicality of nature: serious hiking, gardening, and many years as a modern dancer. The forms are abstract, but animated, conversational, argumentative, mysterious, even humorous in some cases. The surface is an important element in the overall impression of the work. I continue to explore soft, dry, or crackly surfaces as they relate to the evolution of ideas and forms.
Originally, I started making three-legged work as part of the Baba Yaga Series. These were a group of large sculptures (around 3 or 4 feet high) whose source idea was the Russian folk tale witch, Baba Yaga, and her magical house in the forest, which stands on chicken feet and can rotate in any direction. While continuing to acknowledge the concept of “vessel,” I chose to work with three legs and a variety of strange feet because these forms, though figurative in some ways, could not be classified as either human or animal.
These three-legged forms evolved over time into the basket idea, still with three legs. After while, the forms gathered into a crowd–five or seven legs, and began talking or shouting to each other. These had become the “conversation pods”. The pods grew stalks and continued their animated internal conversations. A description overheard from a viewer “looks like a bunch of green carrots going for a walk” was so much the way I had hoped people would see them.
Support our local artists. Here are a few more Buffalo artists and artisans to brush up on:
Pat Pendleton, Kristin Damstetter, Alana Adetola Fajemisin, Sarah and John Cozzemera, Rob Hopkins, Jennifer Seth-Cimini, Elisabeth Strong, Michael Mulley, Patricia Schwimmer, Mikel Doktor, Jerome Greenberg, Elizabeth Leader, Jacqueline Welch, Doreen DeBoth, Joe Cascio, Candace Masters, Iris Kirkwood, Lukia Costello, Michael Morgulis, Julie Leatherbarrow, Chris Liberti, Michael Mararian, Daniel Rodgers, Bruce Adams, Ken Payne, Christina Cooke, Elise Anne Brooks, Frank Cravotta, Jackie Albarella, Gary Melius,Melissa Campbell, Jeff Quigley, Nancy Moran, Vincent Alejandro