I am a sculptor working and living in Maine and New Jersey. 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.
In my view, nature speaks to us in patterned relationships and symbols, the very language of art. My figurative work explores these relationships and symbols and the ways they work through us to connect us with our physical world. These symbols from nature, such as the mountain and cave, bees and honey, flowers, circles and stars, inevitably come through the work and guide my creative journey. The artwork takes on the symbol to participate in the sacred and to affirm life’s spiritual dimension through art.
I work collaboratively with individuals and organizations from a variety of fields, particularly poetry, biology and ecology.
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.
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.