I am a sculptor and Social Practice artist and environmental activist. My artwork focuses on an ‘ecological self’ and stems from a meditation on how natural processes such as cell propagation, bees building honeycomb, changes in weather, seasons, time, birth, death and decay, become the symbolic language of life. My work looks at how we create meaning from nature as a way to bring us back into relationship with nature.
I use traditional clay modeling techniques joined with natural materials and emerging technologies to create life-size figures that combine the human body with symbols and patterns from nature, seeking an ‘ecological-self’. I sculpt life-size figures in water-based clay and then cast them into an architectural concrete or bronze or 3D print them. Ground pigments mixed with beeswax or shellac, and natural materials such as wasp paper, bark, roots, and seeds are often used to finish the work. My forms fluctuate between likeness and abstraction to emphasize the tension between the personal and the universal – our desire to hold onto our uniqueness with our need to understand ourselves as a vast, interconnected body.
To bring the ecological-self work to others, I have created a Social Practice project: Discovering the Ecological Self. Discovering the Ecological Self is a multi-institutional art project designed to foster environmental stewardship and create environmental leaders and Social Practice artists. The project uses workshops and activities to research and create art from personally and culturally significant nature-based symbols, patterns, and images. I work collaboratively with individuals and organizations from a variety of fields, particularly poetry, biology and ecology and give workshops internationally.
To join in the project and seek out your own ecological self, start with this introductory survey: https://kimberlycallas.com/survey/ The survey results help us identify threads and patterns in our relationships to nature and inspires new imagery for the project. Contact information is optional.
Kimberly Callas is a Monmouth University Assistant Professor of Art and Design.