The visual arts and informal writing have been life companions for Carol Alleman. Upon locating to Tucson, Arizona in 1994, she discovered clay while exploring the mysterious desert landscape. Immediately she began digging her own clay and experimenting with slab, coil, and a variety of hand building techniques. Since then she has continued to explore the infinite dimensions of clay, water-based and oil, considering herself largely “self-taught.”
In late 2001, Carol expanded her work into the bronze market choosing her vessel forms as her entry work. Today she continues to develop the bronze cast “Tree of Life” and “Nature Series” of mystical, organic vessels. Both series reflect a visual and narrative imagery of her personal intimacy with the powerful energy, spirit, and symbolism of trees and nature. Companion writings accompany her work.
Born in rural PA she obtained her degree in Art Education from the Pennsylvania State University (PA/USA) and continued graduate studies at the Lancaster Theological Seminary (PA/USA). Most recently, she has completed studies with various contemporary artists at the Scottsdale Artist School, Scottsdale, Arizona.
2009 Art for Heart, Appalachian Service Project Fundraiser, Grandview United Methodist Church, Lancaster PA
2009 6th Annual Flavors of Tucson, Desert Southwest American Liver Foundation, Tucson AZ
2009 18th International Miniature Show, Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC
2009 Gravity Exhibit, Herberger Theater Center, Scottsdale, AZ
2009 Singularity Exhibit, Herberger Theater Center, Scottsdale, AZ
2008 Art for Heart, Appalachian Service Project Fundraiser, Grandview United Methodist Church, Lancaster PA
2008 Jerome Beillard Festival for Life, Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF), Tucson AZ
2008 Family Fun Brunch Silent Auction, Tucson Children’s Museum (TCM), Tucson AZ
2008 Ongoing Exhibit, Arizona Cancer Center Clinic, University Medical Center (UMC), Tucson AZ
2008 SculptureWalk 2008, Sioux Falls, SD
2008 Garden of the Soul Group Exhibit, Herberger Theater Center, Scottsdale, AZ
2007 American Women Artists 2007 National Juried Competition,LeKAE Gallery, Scottsdale, AZ
2007 Invited Artist, Sculpture in the Park, Loveland High Plains Art Council, Loveland, CO
2007 Visions & Alchemy, Two-Person Show with Cary Henrie, Meyer-Milagros Gallery, Jackson Hole, WY
2007 Idea House, Phoenix Home and Garden 2007 Idea House, Talking Rock, AZ
2007 16th International Miniature Show, Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC
2006 One-Person Show, Willow Gallery, USA, Scottsdale, AZ
2006 10th Annual Sacred Art Exhibit, Box Heart Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA
2006 Two-Person Show, Meyer-Milagros Gallery, Jackson Hole, WY
2006 Invited Artist, Sculpture in the Park 2006, Loveland High Plains Art Council, Loveland, CO
2006 15th International Miniature Show, Seaside Art Gallery, Nags Head, NC
2005 Two- Person Show, Meyer-Milagros Gallery, Jackson Hole, WY
2005 Invited Artist, Sculpture in the Park 2005, Loveland High Plains Art Council, Loveland, CO
2005 Solo Show, The Redfern Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA
2005 Group Show, Rhodes Stringfellow Fine Art, Cannon Beach, OR
2005 Greater Midwest International Exhibit XX, CMSU, MN
2005 Three – Person Show, Meyer Gallery, Park City, Utah
2005 Parkland Gallery, Champaign, IL
2004 Director’s Choice, Artspace / Virginia Miller Galleries, Coral Gables, Florida
2004 Group Show, New Masters Gallery, Carmel, CA
2004 Invited Artist, Sculpture in the Park 2004, Loveland High Plains Art Council, Loveland, CO
2004 Group Show, Rhodes Stringfellow Fine Art, Cannon Beach, OR
2004 Two – Woman Show, Meyer Gallery, Park City, Utah
2003 Group Show, Rhodes Stringfellow Fine Art, Cannon Beach, OR
2003 Invited Artist, Sculpture in the Park 2003, Loveland High Plains Art Council, Loveland, CO
2003 Contemporary Works of Faith, Liturgical Art Guild, Columbus, OH
2002 American Women Artists, Santa Fe, NM
2002 St. John’s International School, Brussels, Belgium
1999 Shemer Gallery and Museum of Art, Phoenix, AZ
1998 Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ
1998 Tucson-Pima Arts Council, Tucson, AZ
1997 Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ
1996 Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ
2007 Private Commission, Ginkgo: Seed of Hope (pair)
2004 Montage Resort & Spa Laguna Beach, Laguna Beach, CA and The Redfern Gallery, Infinity (pair)
2003 The Redfern Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA, Transitions II
AWARDS AND PUBLICATIONS
2007 A Montage of Masterworks, The Redfern Gallery
2007 Phoenix Home and Garden, IDEA House Publication
2006 Southwest Art, December issue, “Vases and Vessels” and “Start Your Collection”
2006 Phoenix Home & Garden Magazine, November Issue, Guest Artist Feature Article
2006 Celebrating Thirty Years, The Redfern Gallery
2005 Southwest Art, Artists to Watch
2005 Industry Award, Sculptural Pursuit Annual Competition
2005 Art Calendar – Cover
2005 Ministry & Liturgy Magazine – feature BENE Award article
2004 BENE Award, Ministry & Liturgy Annual Visual Arts Award, San Jose, CA
LECTURES AND READINGS
2009 Private Collection Viewing and Intimate Talk, McLean VA
2009 Artist Talk / Poetry Reading and Exhibition, Bottoms Art Galleries presents Bella Arte Events, Santa Barbara CA
2007 Artist Talk and Prose Reading, Meyer-Milagros Gallery, Jackson Hole, WY
The ancient, organic vessel form has become my signature canvas. I welcome other forms, dimensions and presentations as they arise in their season and enrich my ground of creative exploration. Intricately developed, multi-colored patinas continue to both challenge and entice me as I explore and expand the limits of traditional patina in my major body of bronze sculpture.
Forms, creatures and numeric elements take on a sometimes cloaked and sometimes visible presence in my work weaving a mystical, symbolic thread. I am continuously inspired by the incessant, mystical voice of nature and the human spirit in all its colors. Coupled with the profoundly feminine qualities of the vessel form, nature enkindles me to give voice to the darker corners of the heart while igniting a glowing ray of hope and solidarity. Unceasingly, I hope to be an ever growing gardener of the soul through my intertwining visual and written expressions.
The intertwining dance – of nature, vessels, and the spiritual realm – continues to prevail in my work. Qualities of the ancient vessel mirror my essence of living and creating. The circular form is powerful in its representation of the never-ending journey of eternity. The feminine vessel energies illuminate a willingness to receive (remaining open), a penchant to nourish (embrace and enrich), and an intention to renew this cycle through sharing (pouring forth and giving birth). The endlessly inspiring vessel qualities, coupled with my deep appreciation for the immense wisdom and beauty of nature, continue to be fertile seeds for the Tree of Life Series. The alluring and beautifully hued wildflowers of the Nature Series expand the body of work with a captivating and distinctively brilliant palette. Organic and mystical, each of the vessels impart an ethereal quality.
Author Ted Andrews, in Animal–Speak, suggests: “Every flower blossoms with reminders to be creative, and every tree whispers with its rustling leaves the secrets of life.” Trees and flowers, nature and all Her elements indeed seem to whisper to me incessantly as I sculpt and write. Their language is mystical and magical, apparent and elusive, evocative and reassuring. Seemingly common elements and threads weave themselves together, through my hands and words, into amazingly poignant and often cryptic expressions. Frequently, I am amazed when looking at a finished piece, as if to look over my shoulder and say, ‘Who did that?’ I feel both humbled and honored knowing I was there, my hand following something much larger than myself. Again and again, I am blessed and inspired by the choir of guiding Voices throughout the process. The voices of the clay are the Voices of my inner guidance, holding a language I believe speaks to me and all of us at once. It is typically only after the vessel is completed that I am able to fully recognize and appreciate its full essence. The vessels evolve into treasures with a sensation of history and antiquity – rich in a tapestry of story and symbolism. Forms, creatures and numeric elements take on a sometimes cloaked or sometimes visible presence in my work, while continually weaving a mystical, symbolic thread.
Although I obtained a formal education, as an artist, I consider myself largely self-taught. Each piece has its own process of evolving and I find myself learning, growing and evolving in large and small ways along with each one.
Typically the smaller vessels are created as I hand-build a form in water-based clay, using slab and coiling techniques. I then refine the surfaces using a repertoire of tools often including a rice paddle, metal ribs and various stones. Always, I smooth and massage the interior with a slice of coconut shell, now worn to an intimately, silken surface. It is during this process of turning, scraping, and smoothing that I sit attentively listening to the vessel for guidance on its intentions – its voice. If I begin with an idea, I attempt to hold it most loosely, so as not to miss the opportunity to hear a deeper Wisdom. With the surface prepared, and having received a sense of the forms’ intention, I begin sketching on the surfacewith a small needle tool. With sketching complete, I use a subtractive sculpting method: removing all the clay that will not contribute to the finished form. Concentrated attention is given to the balance and rhythm of light as it will flow through the vessel openings – the light, and its reflections, being a powerful Presence within each vessel. A final refining of the surface and cutout areas follows before allowing the piece to slowly dry before it is fired in a kiln or molded. Certain vessels, including all larger vessels, are created in an oil based clay and/or wax. While these most often require armature, the process is quite similar with three major exceptions: the clay is never fired, the negative spaces created by the cut-outs must be visualized rather than actually “cut through” and a combination of additive and subtractive sculpting techniques are used.
With the original vessel complete, the second lengthy process of lost-wax casting begins. The intricate cutouts and open interior surface demand a highly labor-intensive casting process. Each cutout area must be re-cut in each individual wax form, and then cleaned to a smooth and even surface. Unlike sculpture with an exterior surface alone, the open vessel form requires delicate attention to the surfaces on the interior, exterior and (because of the cut-out areas) often hundreds of spaces in between. Many, many talented hands (those whom I refer to as the wonderful “ghost artists”) work with the pieces as they move through the precise stages at the foundry, insuring the highest level of craftsmanship in each step of the process. Unable to be physically present for each unique piece in each stage of the precise process, I work closely with these artisans, providing the necessary guidance to fulfill my visual and quality standards for each piece. A foundry proof (FP) is created, as the model/prototype, to assist the various artisans. Careful and repeated inspections are performed throughout the process prior to each piece receiving final approvals.
I remain immensely involved in the intricate patina and finishing processes. The final cast works receive a patina (chemicals most often applied hot, which oxidize the copper in the bronze and create color). These chemicals, in my work, are carefully applied in many layers to the cast bronze, helping to create my signature look of a multi-palette, organic (and often arboreal) patina with an old world luster and alluring detail. Though there are truly only three main water soluble chemicals in the art of patination, hundreds of variations are possible through application techniques, temperature, surface preparation, use of dyes, pigments and finishing choices. Maintaining even heating conditions with the often hundreds of cut-outs (in sharp contrast to the solid base) is a unique challenge. Dyes and/or pigments, at times, are added to enhance the tonal values without compromising the stability of the patina. Each piece is well sealed and protected with a lacquer and/or wax finish. Regardless of sealing methods, the patina of the bronze vessel will change (to varying degrees) over time. The nature of the bronze material, interacting with time, environment and care is akin to nature itself, and one of its most unique qualities. My steadfast goal is museum quality work that is both evocative and inspiring. My commitment to achieving that goal is rewarded by the growing laudatory response of my collectors. I believe the work speaks with a deeply authentic voice: its initial capture is through the alluring visual qualities while simultaneously igniting a much deeper, soulful resonance. I feel both blessed and honored to share my creative visions while humbled by the gracious support and encouragement I continue to receive.
Companion writing accompanies most of my work. Once I feel I have received the essence of the vessels’ intention, I engage in lengthy research regarding the elements and images to be included. The writing unfolds gradually throughout the process. This prose is offered as a seed to ignite one’s own contemplation while sharing the symbolic interpretation regarding the significance of the piece, to me, as it was born. It is my hope that the work will speak in many languages, changing from season to season in one’s own life journey. I believe my writings to be messengers reaching far beyond the seed I receive while creating them.
Each piece is authored with a mark resembling a very broad, cursive “Z”, found beside my signature. This mark is an expression of the Spirit (Wind) always moving within and around us. It is my way of remembering and acknowledging I never create alone – perhaps more accurately, my mark of gratitude.