Ann Weber is like a kid at Christmas time. Instead of playing with her new shiny toys, she goes for the big cardboard boxes and turns them into large sculptures that resemble pods, gourds and other biomorphic forms. These towering and impressive structures are currently on display in “Love and Other Audacities” at the Craft and Folk Art Museum in Los Angeles, California and will remain on view until October 11, 2011.
Weber a former ceramicist used to make functional pottery. After a long working stint in New York City making and selling her pottery, Weber headed out to the west coast to study with Viola Gray at the California College of Arts and Craft in Oakland, located in the Bay Area. It was Gray’s totemic clay sculptures that inspired the scale of Weber’s own work.
Although she admired Frank Gehry’s cardboard furniture, it wasn’t until 1991 when she was moving into a large new studio that she eyed the flattened moving boxes, which were ideal for an artist with little funds, but also were light-weight material unlike the cumbersome plaster sculptures she had just moved to her new quarters. Taking on this new challenge, she put her Gehry inspirations into action and merged her ceramics background with architectural concepts. The outcome became a series of Gaudi-esque structures.
On her website Weber writes the following of her work, “One of the unique qualities of my art is the psychological component. Neither entirely representational nor abstract, but something in between, I want the viewers to bring their own associations to the artwork. Working with a palette of simple forms (cylinders and circles), the sculptures are symbolic of male and female forms and the natural world. I use architecture and art historical references to evoke memory, relationships and morality in my sculpture.”
In building her sculptures, Weber uses three simple tools: a stapler, box cutter and shellac. Most of the cardboard she uses have been found in dumpsters and when asked about the size of her pieces she simply replies, “I'm interested in how big you can make something before it collapses.” Her process is simple: Weber cuts the cardboard into strips and then weaves them into podlike shapes. To hold them together she staples the strips, adds a coat of shellac or polyurethane. For heavier and sturdier pieces she forgoes the shellac and bronzes the structures.
In Love and Other Audacities, Weber’s anthropomorphic sculptures examine the complex and continually evolving relationships between people. “I’ve always thought a lot about relationships. How vital they are to our living and
breathing, how they almost work sometimes and sometimes they don’t,” she says and adds, “I feel like sculptures are metaphors telling stories about our lives.”