Figures in clay5/1/2019
Linda Lewis’ sculptures reveal what a person thinks.
Four years before Linda Lewis was set to take early retirement from her teaching career, she enrolled in a figurative clay art workshop. She minored in art in college, but teaching paid the bills; art didn’t.
At the workshop, she wanted to make objects other than bowls and cups. At the end of the class, her clay figure resembled a person, and the instructor told her, “It looks like you’ve been doing this for a while.”
“It was the spark inside my brain to give me the motivation to do this and to make a career out of sculpting,” she says.
Lewis says she felt clumsy working with clay at first, but she has honed her skills for the past 10 years. She shares studio space with two other artists, Diane Hayes and Judy Goodwin, at Mainframe Studios.
Lewis’ figurative art consists of shaping and constructing people out of clay. She
molds one body part at a time. A leg starts out as a cylindrical piece.
“Rather than it looking like a Pringles can, it looks like a thigh instead,” she says.
Many of her clay figurines include subtle facial expressions. Several of her items have a “lid” on the head. For example, when the head’s lid is opened on the “Beach Dream,” the contents inside reveal a beach scene.
One whimsical sculpture she created, “Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places,”
is of a woman pulling out a man’s pants and looking in.
“I try to look for the frozen moment in time and what the person is thinking,” she says. “I think about human nature and how that could be a sculpture.”
One of her favorite sculptures “Considering Possibilities,” is perched outside the studio.
“It’s like the person is watching the people come off the elevator,” she says.
The most difficult aspect of her craft is not the creative side but the business approach.
“That’s one of my weaknesses,” she says. “I’m not a salesperson. I’m more about building a relationship with people.”
Lewis’ artwork is featured in art shows, including the Des Moines Arts Festival and SOFA in Chicago. Iowa State University purchased one of her sculptures.
“It was a wonderful moment to be accepted in Chicago and be recognized and accepted as an artist,” she says.
Her work appears in several galleries, where more people can view it.
“Some artists complain about commissions, but it’s time well spent,” she says.
Lewis says artists are a generally good group of people.
“Some artists are a flaky, old-school types,” she says. “Artists are just like your
neighbors but have an amazing ability to see things differently than everyone else.” ♦