Being a creative nerd, attending artist talks is a must. I’ve been to a lot of art discussions over the years. Some have been at artist galleries, museums, studios, public spaces, sidewalks, backyards, parks, restaurants, and perhaps in the future on the moon. Some are slow, boring, and similar to watching paint dry. However, last week’s artist talk at the Berkeley Art Center featuring artist Ann Weber hit it out of the ballpark.
To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.
Ann Weber is known for her large-scale cardboard installations, sculptures, and drawings. She finds cardboard in trash or recycling bins, cuts pieces into long strips, staples them together to create large voluminous shapes, and uses polyurethane as a binder. Take a look at The Wedding Party at Dolby Chadwick Gallery in San Francisco:
Ann Weber started the discussion in 1980 describing her educational experience at the New School for Social Research in New York City. She studied under instructor Viola Frey who is known for large ceramic figures of men and women dressed in 1950’s fashions. This Frey quote left an impression on Weber: “You’re a beginning artist for the 10 years after school.”
Inspired by Frank Gehry’s cardboard models, Weber has been working with that medium since 1991. Weber: “Cardboard allows me to make monumental, yet lightweight forms, and eliminate the cumbersome process of clay…My abstract sculptures read as metaphors for life experiences, such as the balancing acts that define our lives.”
Ms. Weber’s journey in life and art is inspiring overcoming many challenges and various love affairs. Her studio burnt down in 1995, received numerous rejection letters for public art opportunities, had to find creative ways to support her art and child, and survived cancer. Also, after 3 hours of stapling the cardboard strips together her hands hurt. Weber: “When in a crisis, being an artist and being to be able to create- saves you…”
Recently, Weber just got back from the American Academy in Rome as a visiting artist, fell in love with the city, and a handsome Italian. Not to mention that it had a dumpster of cardboard at every corner. Weber: “Rome is a city with more sculpture than any other city.” After the talk, the audience left appreciating the creative endeavors and adventures of Weber the Artistic Gladiator. Her bravery and courage inspires us all to love each day just a little bit more.