REINERTSON / ARTIST’S STATEMENT
It is the human mind and soul responding to the world we experience that makes the art, and the human mind and soul that can hopefully be touched by it. I have been inspired by nature and by great art and by all the thoughts and ideas that my heart cares about, or is curious about. I have loved making art. I love the visual language of art. It is subtle and if you coax it, it can be powerful; if you give of yourself to the art, give the time, the work, sacrifice, questions, struggles, and care. But I also have to care about this life, this world in which we live, for the art to matter.
As a child I loved drawing and immersing myself in art books, especially the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist eras. I frequented the museums and galleries in the San Francisco and Sacramento area, where the Bay Area Figurative artists and California Funk artists were important local influences. Later, as a young woman, experiencing Michelangelo’s sculptures and frescoes in Italy, and the politically infused art of the muralists in Mexico helped to solidify my powerful passion to create art that is humanist in content.
Ceramic sculpture was becoming a “serious” art form as I was coming of age as an artist, and the “Funk” clay artists could be seen nearby at the Candy Store Gallery in the town of Folsom. In college, I worked in the very stimulating and infamous art environment of TB9 at UC Davis, with great working artists around to inspire and challenge such as Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Wayne Theibaud.
My passion was for figure drawing and working with clay. Eventually, clay became the medium I found to be best suited to expressing my ideas. It has the malleable expressive qualities of drawing, yet I could build life-size figures that entered your space and confronted you with their presence. Eventually I found that clay translated well into bronze, which enabled my work to become outdoor public sculpture.
Both my personal experiences and the era in which I have lived have defined the nature of my work. Returning to college as a single mother of a young daughter gave me a perspective that was stubbornly focused on expressing truth about women’s experiences, or the “human condition” from a woman/mothering perspective. I deeply felt the belief and feminist call of my era that “the personal is political”, and that in seeking one’s own truths, you may have a chance of touching upon the universal. At the time, “mother and child” imagery was not considered a serious subject matter for contemporary art. But I understood that this relationship was a very primal and powerful subject matter to examine through my work. Within these contexts, my art has delved into mythological, anthropological, and art history references. Goddesses, primates, and Michelangelo’s figurative and humanist mastery circle back around. These influences carry timeless stories and reflections into our human psyche.
Another powerful influence on my work has been the social and political times of the 1960’s and 70’s. My father marched with Martin Luther King on the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965, which was the beginning of my family’s long commitment to Civil Rights, Peace and Social Justice Activism. My parents were on the board of the Sacramento Peace Center during the Vietnam War. As a family we supported and joined the United Farmworkers efforts and at age ten I joined the historic march from Delano to Sacramento.
My sculptural public memorials to Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez have been profound experiences, having been raised in a home in which activism was elevated as a near-spiritual calling and constant source of activities and conversations. To combine my love of sculpting with the ability to express the ideals and life stories of both Martin Luther King and Cesar Chavez in artworks that would be placed in the public, “for the people”, was an incredible honor, challenge and joy for me.
Most of the public art I had seen while growing up were either war memorial sculptures or large geometric forms in front of corporate buildings. I knew of no other sculptures of Martin Luther King at the time I began, and wanted to create a new public art that would include memorials to peace and to unsung everyday heroes, such as the African-American “Mother and Child” sculpture at the UC Medical Center. The use of bas-relief within a larger figure to depict narratives of historic movements in a non-verbal way was an innovation I developed combining these elements of historic art forms.
My ceramic sculptures are often more personal in nature. The women are often in the act of holding; an animal, an object from nature, a child. There is often both a sense of fierce protection and interconnected nurturing. I seek to express that we are a part of nature; that we belong to nature. We mostly live disconnected to nature, and the art establishes this primal aspect of who we are. Art can jar memories. As happens in mythological tales, where humans often interact with animals to find wisdom, there is a familiar sense of knowing I wish to evoke.
As I go through this life, I am more convinced that our need to be true caretakers for this earth is of primary urgency. The Earth might do just fine without us. But with us, we have to take responsibility for our impact upon nature and the diversity of life and animals, or the losses will be irreversible and dire. In my exhibition “Edge of Extinction”, my desire was to bring the presence of these animals into the room, and to create a reminder of our history of connection with the other animals of this earth: an awareness of their existence, and their right to exist, and the incredible miracle of diverse life on the planet that we so often seem blinded to.
As great literature expresses the tragedies, comedies, and quests to find complex meanings and truths in this life, great visual art can communicate the same. With visual language, how one interacts with the materials informs the communication; texture, balance, weight, form, color, image, symbol. Visual art can soar with beauty and can make you weep. It can also cause you discomfort and leave you asking questions. The range of what art can express is as broad as the range of our human experience.
Currently, my work is focused on an active contemplation and depiction of the human cost of the U.S. border crisis. I care about justice, about civil rights, about compassion and peace, and protecting the earth and all living creatures from extinction. Visual art has been my way to express my views without arguing. It is my intent that through beauty and nuance, my artworks stand as a subversive act. Art can be subversive, if you feel it. And ultimately, the artwork itself must be powerful and strong to be felt.