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September 1 - November 31, 2012, Rotunda
Alan LeQuire is a sculptor who has become well-known for his public commissions and sensitive portraiture. LeQuire works in virtually all sculpture materials, both direct carving and clay sculpting to be cast in bronze. Alan LeQuire believes that the human figure is the single artistic subject to which all viewers inevitably respond. Monumental, miniature or life-size, LeQuire's sculptures manage to achieve a living quality, which contributes to a long-standing career of public commissions and a consistent demand for private collections.
While the monumental works of Alan LeQuire enrich the visual landscape of Nashville, many of his works, portrait sculptures and low-edition bronzes, are in institutions, including Vanderbilt University, Country Music Hall of Fame and Jack Daniel Distillery and private collections around the country. Recently LeQuire has begun touring his exhibit, Cultural Heroes, colossal portrait heads of cultural icons Bessie Smith, Leadbelly, Paul Robeson, Billie Holiday, Marian Anderson and Woody Guthrie.
Alan LeQuire is best known for his colossal sculptures, Athena Parthenos, the largest indoor sculpture in the western hemisphere and Musica, one of the largest bronze figure groups in the world.
His most recent colossal work, Dream Forest, was unveiled July 2009.
LeQuire sculpted Dream Forest, nine elongated, interpretive human torsos, assembled together on a colossal scale, with tree-like stature. In a darkened room, the viewer walks among the highlighted, 12-foot tall human torsos as if they are in a dream forest.
To continue the exhibit and to help bring the forest into the room, LeQuire created 8-foot tall prints for the walls, woodblock prints on paper embossed with leaves and inked.
In collaboration with author, Madison Bell, LeQuire gathered people's dreams and Bell edited them into narrative, poetic forms, which LeQuire incised in the sculptures, embedding them as part of the final surface texture.
"Alan is a really original sculptor who has spent lot of his career doing commissions or half-commission work where it's negotiated with somebody else. This is his biggest, most significant work that comes out of his inner life," Bell says, "Dream Forest is showing how our relationship with the natural world is the core of what makes us human."
LeQuire sculpted Dream Forest directly in plaster and painting the figures for exhibit indoors. Ultimately, as the edition sells, the human/tree forms will be cast in bronze.
Creative License - Alan LeQuire
A creative spark. A block of clay. Nimble fingers carving and smoothing. These are the tools of celebrated Nashville sculptor, Alan LeQuire. This Creative License story provides a unique and rare journey into the mind of an artist. From childhood days of learning from his artistic mother, and working with his physician father to reassemble a skeleton, LeQuire has turned his fascination with the human body into art. His works range from tabletop pieces, to life-size and larger than life, and even monumental works like Athena in Nashville's Parthenon. The work of LeQuire is proof that scale doesn't matter when it comes to artistic ambitions.
I've always liked working on a colossal scale--Athena Parthenos, Musica--this is my latest colossal project. It's different in that it is my own idea. There is no client. These pieces are modeled directly in plaster, but I hope some day to make them more permanent by casting them in bronze.
My primary focus from the beginning has always been on form, using form as a language to communicate feeling. This is a further exploration of form, blending human and vegetal form with the deep emotion that comes from my personal dreamscape.
I am a figurative sculptor to my core, and this is a big step for me because these are just torsos - no heads - and they're not very realistic. The challenge of Dream Forest is to make form by itself carry enough enlivened significance to animate the whole space, to make the forms retain as much emotional intensity as if they were realistic.
I feel lucky to have grown up on a farm and to have had all the experiences I've had outside and in the woods. This work is about my dreamscape, but it's also about the landscape. It's an ode to the disappearing forest ecosystem. These sculptures are like old growth trees in that they welcome and support us with a living presence.
One of the wonderful things about dreams is that they often synthesize the disparate elements in your life. In my case this has happened again and again in a specific form, a three-dimensional object. The space between the forms is important and so is the scale. The form, the texture, and the spaces between all work together to convey a sense of the living presence in the sculpture.
The prints are a way to continue the exhibit and the experience onto the walls that enclose it. I'm working with leaves and carved wooden blocks combining woodblock and collagraph printing techniques to make prints that are 8' tall and help bring the forest into the room.
In dreams I've examined surface texture in detail, and there are often layers of graffiti in the surface, much like the Elgin marbles in the British Museum and the casts of the Elgin marbles in Nashville, which have the ancient graffiti along with contemporary. A lot of ancient statues have graffiti on them. In talking over the project with Madison Bell, he offered to take our dream stories and try to condense them into useable narrations that I could incorporate into the texture. This is what I've done in an attempt to convey more of the dream experience itself and to help the viewer penetrate into a more poetic realm.
I think for all of us personal growth and transformation occurs first in our dreams before it occurs in waking life, and the sculptures in this exhibit document a personal transformation that has been taking place for years in my dream life. The earliest dreams that I remember had to do with colossal forms that were usually threatening or frightening, but lately these same forms have become anthropomorphic and more welcoming, nurturing... almost as if I am being visited by very supportive ancestors.
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