I suppose because my focus is figurative art in a more traditional sense, and because I feel the pull of the demands and expectations of the outside world on my work, one of my favourite sculptural pieces is “Expansion” by Paige Bradley.
The story of it’s inception and creation is a beautiful and powerful one of bravery and adaptation. It is about the stretching we must do as artists and creatives, to continue to grow and thrive and work in our ever changing world. The piece was conceived in Manhattan, NY in the early 2000s. The figure had grown out of favour in contemporary art circles. Galleries and dealers were looking for “visionary” art and moving away from the figure and representational works.
The art world was telling me I had to break down my foundation, let my walls crumble, expose myself completely, and from there I will find the true essence of what I needed to say. – Paige Bradley
Bradley took a finished wax sculpture that she had taken months to complete, and smashed it on the floor. The pieces were then cast into bronze, and reassembled so that they floated apart from each other. A lighting specialist was called in to light the work from the inside, and the rest … as they say … is history.
Ms Bradley has since exhibited world wide, and won numerous awards and accolades for this and other works.
So, literally, I took a perfectly good wax sculpture – a piece I had sculpted with precision over several months – an image of a woman meditating in the lotus position, and just dropped it on the floor. I destroyed what I made. I was letting it all go. It was scary. It shattered into so many pieces. My first feeling was, ‘What have I done!?!’ Then, I trusted it would all come together like I envisioned. – Bradley
From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically ‘un-contained’? – Paige Bradley
Illumination – Second Figure in the Series
Illumination is the second figure in the Expansion series. The figure represents the energy of our spirit within us. When we allow ourselves to live life to the fullest, and feel deeply alive, nothing can stop our momentum.
View more of Paige Bradley’s work on her website Paige Bradley