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Friday, January 10, 2020
Interview with Sculpture Artist Michael Alfano
I met Michael Alfano over a year ago at a local arts show in Westchester, NY. At the time I was drawn to one of his works but didn’t buy it. The following year – this past summer – I was lucky enough to see him at the same fair again and this time I bought the piece that had caught my eye. He does terrific work and I urge you to explore his work.
What type of artist are you and for how long have you had your business?
I have been a professional sculptor for over twenty years.
What inspires your art?
My inspiration in creating surrealistic portraits is to know others and myself more fully. Creating and exploring faces brings me closer to understanding myself and humanity in a fundamental, nonverbal, way. The face has so much psychic importance in our lives. The eyes, lips, and the whole configuration, both literally and figuratively, are at the center of our lives.
What do you hope your art will do for those who see it?
My Sculptures relate to the everyday in order to cause people to experience, think, and understand life more fully.
You sold me The Questioning Mind sculpture. Please describe it and tell us what led you to craft it?
The surrealistic face creates the shape of a question mark, a hallmark of the human race. It calls to viewers to stop and reflect. The reverse side of the sculpture features a quote from Albert Einstein, “Never stop questioning.”
How is an artist’s creativity similar to or different from that of an author?
I think of myself as a storyteller in the visual arts. Each piece is based on a philosophical quote and tells a human experience story.
What advice do you have for struggling artists?
Always keep working. Have several projects going at the same time, because if there is delay on one then you have another project to jump on. Share your work with others, whether through exhibits, open studios or or just inviting your friends to see what you are working on.You'll be amazed at how much you learn and the joy your art brings into the world.
How can people view your catalog of work?
People can view my work on my website: Sculpture by Michael Alfano – Fine Art, Bronzes, Monuments, Portraits – or by visiting one of the galleries or public art installations listed on my website “Locations” page (my 2020 Exhibits will be listed soon): Locations – Sculpture by Michael Alfano
More About His Work – From Michael
Materials and Techniques
I work in a very traditional way, most often with hand-made tools and oil-based clay. Starting with a philosophical concept of what I would like to create, I make several drawings on paper to be translated into a clay maquette, a small-scale model) of my idea. Many of these concept pieces remain in the maquette scale while others get enlarged into monumental sizes. Once I have a solid understanding of the proposed sculpture’s form, I build a wood, metal, and styrofoam armature to support the clay and to block out the large masses. Over a period of weeks and months I create the sculpture, continually refining the image until I am happy with both the aesthetic look and the meaning the piece conveys. Once the clay sculpture is complete, a mold is made and it is cast either in a resin material or by using the lost wax bronze casting method. Once the bronze is cast, it needs to be welded, sandblasted, chased, patinated, waxed, polished and mounted on a base before it is complete.
I sculpt people—heads, figures, and symbolically, all of humanity. It is what my hands are drawn to do. Whenever they play absently in the clay, a head or figure always emerges. They run over the material, shaping, carving, caressing a realizable image from a meaningless glob.
People fascinate me. It’s as if I’m an ant, crawling around the contours of a face. There is a whole landscape of soulful life to experience. The expression in a brow or a bowed head is incredibly powerful. Just a bit of clay placed here or there on a well-sculpted piece can speak volumes. Trying to capture it is a lifetime’s work.
My motivation is to know others and myself more fully. Creating and exploring figures brings me closer to understanding myself and humanity in a fundamental, nonverbal, way. The face has so much psychic importance in our lives. The eyes, lips, and the whole configuration, both literally and figuratively, are at the center of our lives.
I love to take my art beyond the literal, adapting the figure to convey philosophical ideas and abstract concepts. When I dig into the clay, I pull out a vision that previously existed nowhere but inside my head, or some other place I don’t know but am in touch with and the forms emerge.
I project the art out at the viewer, entering their space. Sometimes I create holes in the clay so a viewer can glimpse another side. I work around the sculpture, making lines of movement, creating each facet to draw the viewer to the next angle, where sometimes, there are visual or literary discoveries to be found.
For example, my sculpture, The Unraveling, portrays the need for balance in politics, and more generally, in life. The two people appearing to be made of coiled wire are engaged in a tug of war on a see-saw. But these are not child’s games – as each figure struggles to pull the opponent across the middle, their own makeup is coming apart, and they are slowly destroying themselves. The see-saw is precariously balanced atop a pyramid engraved with the Eye of Providence, which is based on the imagery on the reverse side of the American dollar bill, and implies the basis of the struggle. Ultimately, if either side “wins”, the balance will be upset and they will both fall.
In the end, it’s the things I create that define my life. I aim to make great art. Art can cause a powerful effect on people. It can make anyone see the world differently. Art can be engaging in a way that generates discussion and brings about change. The best art relates to the everyday in order to cause people to experience, think, and understand life more fully. This is my mission.
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.