Dumpster Diving For Art

California artist Ann Weber began her career making large ceramic pottery. She studied with Viola Frey at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, whose totemic clay figures inspired the scale of Weber’s own work.

But in 1991 Weber switched from ceramics to cardboard (see here). “Cardboard allows me to make monumental, yet lightweight forms, and eliminate the cumbersome process of clay,” she says on her website.  Her abstract sculptures are metaphors for life experiences. “’How far can I build this before it collapses?’ is a question on my mind as I work.”

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Weber’s distinctive process was recently documented at the American Academy in Rome, where this past December she was a Visiting Artist, in a brief video directed and photographed by Nicolas Heller (here), who has been filming artists at work. From prodigious sketching to daily dumpster diving, from plotting with pencil and cutting with knife to assembling with staples and finishing the piece, Weber’s inspiring sculpture takes form before the viewer’s eyes. She has said that working in cardboard allows her to make grand works that she can carry. As you will see in the video, she also makes magic with the remnants and waste of everyday life.

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