Is art a reflection of reality or is it the reality of reflection?
This was the question posed by Ed Dolinger, who gave the lecture “Creating Sculpture” Wednesday to the Piedmont Arts Guild.
Sculpture is a three dimensional image or representation of form made from solid materials, Dolinger said.
Throughout time, though, sculpture has changed, he said. Despite that, six basic elements of sculpture remain: a form of mass, volume, line, plane, texture and color.
Dolinger showed pictures of the works of well-known artists and some of his own sculptures. The first and the one that elicited the greatest response from the audience was a sculpture by Dwayne Hampton. Hampton’s pieces are realistic, life-size, cast resin painted sculptures of people.
Next Dolinger displayed several sculptures of horses by different artists to show how sculptures change over time. The first was a Lascaux cave painting of a horse. It was drawn roughly with basic tools, but you can tell it’s a horse. Then a Greek/Roman style and a DaVinci horse sculptures were shown.
Dolinger showed a contemporary image of a horse sculpture by Debra Butterfield. Butterfield uses natural objects, most often wood, and forms them into the horse figure. These found objects are then cast in bronze and repainted to look just like wood.
Understanding the basic essence of sculpture is critical to understanding sculpture as a whole, Dolinger said. Mass, said Dolinger, is the bulk, the solid portion and the physicality of the artwork.
Volume, or negative space, is the space between things. Dolinger sees “power in the in between, around and under spaces of a sculpture,” he said.
Plane is the surface the sculpture creates as the piece creates different directions, he said.
Texture is the surface quality, Dolinger said. Color was identified as surface quality, material color or the color applied to a piece.
“Regardless of material, the sculptor wants poetry of form,” said Dolinger. He added that it is not just representational but about creating an image, such as by a work by Tara Donovan. Her installation’s appealing overall effect masks the fact that it is made of styrofoam cups suspended in a mesh-like material from the ceiling.
Next Dolinger offered insight into the process of creating sculpture, particularly from his experience making public artworks. First, an artist is commissioned (hired to create something), he said. From there, collaborative efforts are made between the artist and all public parties with an interest in the purpose or location of an artwork. This step of the process is challenging, he said, and requires much more modification than one may think.
In his works, Dolinger deals with line quality and negative space most often, he said. Since he has a painting background, Dolinger also uses color. Dolinger said that when he creates a piece, he wants it to appear like a moment was arrested in time. He also said he likes his pieces to appear static but seem capable of movement.
As Dolinger creates sculptures, he asks himself, “What sort of poems am I composing?”
Dolinger, who moved to Bassett several years ago, is an art professor at Hollins University in Roanoke.
He has made public art pieces for many places in the United States. Locally, his work is along the new Silverbell Trail and rail trails through town.
Dolinger will hold two workshops with a hands-on approach called “3D with E.D.” They will be held at 10 a.m. Feb. 2 and at 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. March 16, at Piedmont Arts.