As an American raised overseas, moving from country to country, I found myself in one international melting pot after another. Because my father worked for an international helicopter contracting company, there were many cultures mixing together. Often, I was with Iranians, Arabs, Austrians, Indians, Pakistanis, Asians and many others. People often ask me why, if I lived in Iran (before its collapse), Dubai, Singapore and other interesting countries, I never learned the languages. Unfortunately, there were too many to learn, so I was very dependent on signs with symbols, hand gestures and facial expressions. Often English was spoken among expats, so I got by with that where I could.
Looking back, this is what shaped me into the type of artist I am today. Communicating a universal feeling or concept is at the core of my work. It’s my intention, to move people as much as I can with symbology as much as possible. Honestly, it’s quite difficult to move a viewer with a piece of art, so when someone tells me my work reminds them of their relationship with their mother or their child, or they tell me my work has moved them to tears, I feel such an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and connection with them. Sculpting can be very challenging and physically exhausting. So this positive exchange, interaction and the feedback with the public is the thirst quenching energy that propels me, charges me and ultimately keeps me coming back to make more.
About my art.
Typically, I sculpt in ceramic clay, but I’m moving towards producing some of them in bronze. Ceramic clay is historically important and educational. It’s provided so much information about how the ancient Greeks, Aztecs, Asians, Pompeians and other civilizations have lived. Unlike canvas paintings, it’s pottery, ceramic sculpture stone and bronze that’s survived floods, landslides and even volcanic ash. So working with clay is such a privilege. There is something so centering and therapeutic about modeling with clay, squeezing it and rolling it in your hands. I truly feel a real connection with the earth when I’m working in clay.
My ideas are becoming far more complex and I now find I’m sometimes holding back because they would not be possible in clay. So those ideas will be produced in bronze in the coming months. Bronze, another medium that has survived the test of time, communicates precious messages from ancient cultures and civilizations that might have been lost otherwise.
My pieces are hand sculpted from scratch. The clay is rolled out in slabs/sheets and pieced together to make certain parts of the body. In other areas, I use hand pinched and hand rolled pieces knitted together to create other parts like fingers, ears and faces. In my studio, I have a kiln, so I fire them all myself and the process takes many weeks with drying time and firing with pigments. It’s not unusual to fire the pieces with several layers of pigment up to 6 times with more coats in between to achieve the desired color effects. And often, I fire for 3 days at a time with slow temperature increases to prevent cracking or warping.
I’m always exploring the essence of life. What makes life worthwhile? What brings you joy, pain, satisfaction? What scares you? Where do your strength and power come from? My desire is to remind people: Don’t stop dreaming. Keep going after everything you’ve ever wanted. Because if you’re not dreaming, you’re dying. We’re in a society now where there is such a lack of human connection, empathy and healthy curiosity. I’m urged to remind people: Stop looking at your devices and look up. Look up, look around and look inside yourself. Connect with others around you. There is such delicious beauty in the nooks-and-crannies, the gaps and the precious moments of silence that sometimes allude us. Stop. Look for that beauty. Don’t miss a moment of it.
The biggest challenge facing artists today.
In the last two decades, there are new challenges facing artists. I’m a big supporter of art galleries. They do so much to get our work out there in the public eye and in the hands of collectors. But we’re in a time where it’s increasingly more difficult for galleries to stay afloat while mass-produced art is sold in large quantities online. There are a lot of artists being unethically/ illegally copied without licensing agreements or royalties. Hopefully, the trend will swing back to buyers desiring more unique art and the public will begin to shop local galleries with a higher frequency again.
Amanda’s work is available at Submerge Art Gallery in Austin, Texas. Her website is another great place to access it, and you can follow her on Facebook to see what she’s up to next and to see progress photos of her work as it’s being created.
Word of mouth has been Amanda’s best form of exposure. People share photos of her work on social media and some of those images have gone viral. As a result, people across the globe have reached out to her about her work. What an exciting time to be an artist!