Elizabeth Ostrander by Ric Kasini Kadour
In her ceramic and acrylic sculptures, Elizabeth Ostrander expresses a mystical fantasy world. She uses her sculptures to express ideas of self-agency and selfhood. She embeds these ideas in a mythology that is loosely informed by Paleolithic imagery and an assortment of fables and stories from long gone civilizations. The results are timeless sculptures that are magical, cosmic and earthy.
The Spanish influence in her work comes from her studies with Jose de Creeft at The Art Students League of New York in the 1960s. As a child, the Spanish-born de Creeft sculpted religious figures in clay to sell at the Festival of Santa Lucia in Barcelona. After a career in Europe, in 1929 he emigrated to the United States where he pioneered direct carving and became a master of figural works of women. Ostrander continues his legacy.
Crow Totem is a testament to Ostrander’s ability to create powerful symbols. The two-foot-tall inverted cone sculpture features the head of a crow. Its wingless, legless body is marked and scratched in a manner that conveys a sense of timelessness. Her sculptures lend themselves to a kind of fabulism. Trust is the bust of a woman. She rests her head towards the bird on her shoulder. In her chest, another bird sits on a nest. Ostrander draws a connection between the woman’s outward communication with the bird on her shoulder and the feelings one has, as expressed by the bird and nest occupying the space where her heart is. The use of bird as a metaphor repeats itself in Gentle, where a bird rests in the palm of an outstretched hand. These elements or strategies come together in Shiny Heart Cache, where a totemic crow is revealed to have a heart surrounded by nest-like string. Ostrander’s sculptures, while narrative in appearance, are designed to be pondered, to be used as tools for truth seeking and personal reflection.
BIRD will run at Maine Art Shows, 10 Chase Hill Road in Kennebunk for four weeks. From August 8th – September 7th.
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