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Seeking the Timeless: About Georgianna Krieger
by Jonathan Farrell
That which is universal and timeless is what artist Georgianna Krieger strives to accomplish in her sculpture.
Inspired by the ancients such as the Greeks, Krieger is not shy to say what's missing in the 21st Century, "it's anything but timeless, it's all about time and speed," she said.
The opportunity to visit her studio that sits behind a charming Edwardian style cottage in San Francisco's Richmond District was a rare glimpse into the life of an artist at work.
Krieger's home life is shared with her husband Michael and their baby boy Philo. Together they support each other in their new responsibility as parents. While Michael, a composer of music watches little Philo, Krieger is able to step through the wildflowers in the backyard to a shed she has converted into an extension of her studio.
Apart from a few innovations/conveniences such as, silicon rubber moulds Krieger says, "I use traditional methods. I sculpt the same way the ancients did." The process of it is the same.
(At the beginning of a) work with a small scale that is 1/6 to 1/3 of life scale (size) "I think of most of my sculptures as studies for a life-size or monumental scale work," Krieger said.
There are dozens of works in process, all in various stages. Krieger explains, "When I studied sculpture, I chose the traditional figure as my path (of study) because I feel the human figures speaks to all people of any culture or time period."
She continued, "I took time to study anatomy and the Greek system of (poise and) proportions." This is found in the archaic examples left to us by the Greeks, known as the "Kouros" figures.
Emerging around the year 600, BC the Kouros is the ideal form of human beauty and strength. This ideal form was usually expressed through a youthful male figure. Some scholars hypothesize that the "youthful athlete" represented neither gods nor men but something in between - the hero.
Scholars also believe that this style was the prototype for the further development of Greek sculpture, and was most likely borrowed from the Egyptians. The similarities in various samples between Greek and Egyptian works are striking.
Yet the use and philosophies behind the sculpture of the two cultures are different. For Egypt as example, the sculptures were used for definite religious beliefs (surrounding the 'ka' or personality of soul of the deceased). This type of 'mystical' element in their sculpted helped with the idea of an afterlife.
Allusions to a realm of the 'metaphysical' might be obvious, but for the Greeks such notions of an afterlife were obscure and not afforded to everyone. The Kouros as naked male hero was a model for perfection. This was a tribute to beauty and strength. Unfortunately the esteem for this concept of perfection was not fully extended to females.
Taken directly from the stance of the 'kouros' Krieger adapts the ideal just the same, as she points to her sculpture entitled, "Strength." "I think my work has some of the classical qualities but it is very much of this era. Being that "the reference is intended to say something about the world today."
Krieger's figures are naked as in the classical sense, but in the case of this piece (Strength) she says, "I tried to say something about the strength needed by women every day in the contemporary world."
Bringing that classical ideal of strength and beauty into the present day world, Krieger clothed the figure of woman for this piece "in jeans and t-shirt." Krieger upholds the idea that there is a "fourth dimension" which is the 'metaphysical.'
As she said, "Because we are ever moving, motion is inherent in the nature of our experiences. The human experience is shaped not only by our physicality but also by our intellectual capacity for memory and abstract thought." (This is what makes such pieces metaphysical).
It was through Krieger's work with clay animation that as she said, "gave me an opportunity to do motion studies through time lapse photography. This is how I got to thinking about the fourth dimension." Not to say that all her pieces have to do with motion for as she noted, "some are still figures." "Those are about experiences when the world goes whipping past you as you think, feel or do something," Krieger said.
"I am thinking about geometry and formal composition when I approach a figure." Yet she clarified, "my figures (sculpted) take a form from life but they are not so realistic as they are idealistic," Krieger said.
After her formal study in art school Krieger spend several years working in commercial art fields making designs. As she explained, "I wondered how my art would fit into the modern world."
Not abandoning her admiration of traditional sculpture as she worked in commercial art, Krieger perceived/understood something significant.
Doing design work and making art can be related but are distinctly different from each other. Krieger explained, "I keep the two separate. I think most people don't understand that the skills involved in vigorous art making are transferable to other endeavors like designing and inventing."
This is why she seldom speaks of her artwork to the circle of acquaintances she knows in her design work. And consequently, "I seldom talk about my design work when talking about sculpture."
Yet it seems Krieger is most enthralled by sculpture. When she spoke about her experiences with sculpture her expressions and conversation glowed with an enthusiasm. (As if the Muses were at her side.)
Drawn to sculpture from the beginning, her teacher at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Walter Erlebacher was "very inspirational," said Krieger.
It was his teaching that set the path of sculpture at Krieger's feet. Along with studying the ancients, she admired the great ones like Michelangelo and Bernini. Krieger found Manuel Neri's work inspiring because of "his use of color on figurative sculpture."
She too uses color in her sculpture "not so much for realism but (that) it has to do with the emotions and the content of the piece," she said. And as Krieger noted, "the Greeks painted their sculptures."
She took a trip to Italy and the time she spent to observe the old world craftsmen was amazing as they "worked with the marble like it was butter."
Krieger understands that art is something to share and she praised the support of the artistic community through venues such as the Sunset Artists Society founded in 1999. The weekend of May 31 to June 1, 2003, the Sunset Artists Society is sponsoring a local event at the Hall of Flowers (at 9th Ave. & Lincoln Way) in Golden Gate Park. Krieger will have her work on display.
Krieger is also eagerly preparing for the annual "Open Studios" exhibit/neighborhood art shows sponsored by ArtSpan. A unique San Francisco institution that began literally in an artist's home not too many years ago, the event is a series of mini art shows featured at the home of participating artists over a period of consecutive weekends during the fall season. Krieger said, "This year my neighborhood (The Richmond District) will be the first on the list - weekend #1."
(Incidentally for those of you who don't know San Francisco very well, Fall is when San Francisco has it's summer - Sept. thru early Nov.)
(Incidentally for those of you who don't know San Francisco very well, Fall is when San Francisco weather is at it's best! September thru early November is the city's real summer).
For Krieger's future endeavors she simply says, "I would be honored to have the opportunity to do large pieces for public spaces."
Georgianna Krieger will also be teaching workshops on Figure Drawing and Introduction to Mould Making at Fogbelt Studio in SF's Sunset District. For more information about it visit http://www.fogbeltstudio.com. And for more information about Krieger and her work visit www.shesculpts.com.