Visiting the studios is a fascinating opportunity to catch a glimpse of works before they’re gallery-ready, and to see how our artists turn sparks of inspiration into the art you see displayed. In this series, we ask our Creative Gateways community to give us a behind-the-scenes insight into their current works in progress, inspiration and creative challenges. Today, Sumati shares her journey to becoming a sculptor.
Sumati and the Wisdom in her Hands
I’ve always loved texture. Even when I was drawing I would draw texture! I never really work from two-dimensional ideas, thinking of an image and then trying to recreate it. I don’t work from my head – it’s more about the wisdom in my hands. So perhaps it was natural that I would end up working in clay.
At art school, instead of planning and thinking, I would lock myself in the studio and not let myself out until I did something. The process was one of spontaneous creation, feeling it out in the moment. The outcome was always a surprise, and always better than when I worked from my mind.
Before I was a full time artist I was a cook at a vegetarian restaurant; I’d worked as a personal chef to a couple of households in the Hamptons. I cook very visually, and of course making great food is all about working with your hands, thinking about colors and textures and what goes well together. I’m also trained as a massage therapist – all tactile, touch-based practices.
The first piece
Before meeting Michael, my partner and fellow ceramicist, I’d only worked in hand built and pottery clay, never sculpture. I remember the first time he gave me some wet clay and said “now make a bear!”
It was the start of my journey to becoming a sculptor. For me, because I trust my hands, my eye hadn’t really been trained. To me, the piece I made looked like a kindergarten sculpture! So it’s been 20 years now of training my eye: learning to look and see, and to turn what I see into art.
One thing I do make and sell a lot of is frogs. They’re one of things I make that are not at all realistic! I have a friend who owns a shop in uptown Sedona. There was a water feature in front, and as soon as she got it she came to me and said “I need frogs!”
Feng Shui wise, frogs represent prosperity. You’re meant to put them at the front of your home or business to bring energy to you. So my friend bought three of my frogs: big, medium and small. And it worked! Two years later the business was doing so well she opened another store, so she got more frogs. Now, lots of people see them and call me to commission their own frogs. Frogs are fun. They’re very unusual, they’re not realistic, they make you feel good. It’s a wonderful way to use the wisdom I’ve developed in my hands.
Curious about how you can use the wisdom in your hands?
Visit our open studios to speak with the artists about ways you can get creative! Everyone at Creative Gateways approaches art in a unique way, and the results are innovative, creative, and perfect for your home. To talk to our makers, check out our art and peek “behind the scenes” into the studios where the magic is made, click here to find out more about your visit.