Created out of vines, birch sticks, and straw overlaid on a form made of chicken wire, Ursula Clark’s “Bird Goddess” stands eight feet tall. Its natural make-up fits nicely with the historical appeal of Red Hook’s Elmendorph Inn, where it is displayed on the front lawn.
The sculpture is the first of eight in Sculpture Expo 13, an outdoor mixed-media series organized by Red Hook Community Arts Network (RHCAN).
According to her artist statement, Clark prefers to exhibit her work outside because “it is…more intimate and accessible, closer to peoples’ lives than galleries and museums because nature belongs to all of us.”
Clark created the chicken-wire form elsewhere but added the other materials onsite June 8 and 9. “I never make the same thing twice,” Clark told The Observer as she worked. She also said that her pieces are “ephemeral,” which in the art world means that they are intended to be temporary installations.
The inspiration for “Bird Goddess” came from Clark’s long-term interest in primitive art and its prominent themes of fertility, regeneration, and water, which are represented in spiral and zig-zag shapes. “Most of my work has to do with goddesses,” she said, adding that she is interested in how universal many of these symbols are in primitive work, whether in Europe or the Americas.
Clark said that generally she gathers the materials and creates her sculptures right on site, however, this time the materials did not come from Red Hook, although they are native to the area. “That is part of what I like about doing it [this way], part of the fun is spending time in the location,” she said.
“Among the many relationships that define the human condition, our connection to the environment, I believe, is still primary,” Clark said in her artist statement. “Nature is the biggest of the big picture.”