Saturday, April 18, 2015

Sarah Peters

Even if it only means riding a few miles, I get goose bumps at the sight of an idling car waiting for me to come downstairs. I dart out the door in case the driver might change their mind, leaving me to take the subway. To add to that excitement, last week I caught a ride with my neighbor and master sculptor Sarah Peters to her studio in Sunset Park. I wanted to get a day of drawing in before she took the last two bronze busts to the Lower East Side for her solo show up now at Eleven Rivington. Peters took the time to describe her process as we sped down the BQE. Even though I doubled back with questions as she talked, I still had to ask her to explain lost wax casting again via email. Starting with clay, she makes a rubber mold, casts it in wax, chases the wax, and then takes it to a foundry in Philly where she sleeps on a couch and a whole new set of steps begin. These include spruing the wax, dipping the sprued sculpture in a ceramic shell, burning the wax out of the shell, then pouring the bronze into the empty ceramic shell. After the bronze is poured, they cut off the sprues and chase the metal before applying the final patina which in this case was a rich and sumptuous black. To sum it up, the process is as far-out as the end product.

The range of styles and periods that come to mind in such a satisfying and challenging way is only the beginning of experiencing Peters' work. Is it Archaic or Hellenistic? Romanesque or Neoclassical? I can almost feel the even and cool air of the Met touch my skin as I try to figure it out. And then I get lost in their eerily cavernous eyes and stylized coiffures and start to think of the hair weaves, well manicured eyebrows and OMG declarations of the people around me. If Peters is bringing up idolatry throughout sculpture's history, she is also speaking of it in the present. Extending the beards to highlight their furry significance and all of our current weirdnesses and eccentricities. The spirit of history's iconography is mixed seamlessly with the tenor of the contemporary, and the portal that Peters makes between the two is fascinating. I wholeheartedly believe everything that comes out of these beautifully mysterious heads' shiny little mouths.

The visit ended as we arrived at Eleven Rivington and Sarah gathered up one of her bearded men. I held tight to the littlest bust to walk it into the gallery. It was such an honor to take part in this last step of their journey. As my admiration for these characters grew while drawing, I looked forward to seeing them again all agleam and stoic sitting atop their silky grey pedestals. The show is up until May 17th at Eleven Rivington, and it is a must see. To see more of her work go to .