Though Paige Bradley has a few “trademark” sculptures, the Internet came and fell in love with one particular one that’s causing people from all over the world to see her art for the very first time. It’s an incredibly beautiful sculpture of a naked woman with light bleeding out of her cracked body.
How did this piece, called Expansion, come about? The sculptor just shared with us her fascinating and inspiring story.
“I conceived of this piece when I first moved to Manhattan,” she says. “I was a bit startled by the power of the curators and the critics and how they all had an anti-figure slant on what they deemed show-worthy. So many of these people felt like everything figurative had already been done, and real art was about being a ‘Visionary’ rather than just showing ability, accuracy or general talent. Thus, the figure had generally disappeared from galleries, museums, important collections, art fairs and other shows. The few of us that were left, had no place to exhibit and our voice was not being heard. Many figurative sculptors started teaching, as though that was all they could do.
“If I wanted to stay in the fine art field, I knew I had to join my contemporaries and make ‘contemporary’ art. I knew that it was time to let go of all the finely-tuned skills I had acquired over the years, and just trust in the process of making art. The art world was telling me I had to break down my foundation, let my walls crumble, expose myself completely, and from there I will find the true essence of what I needed to say.
“So, literally, I took a perfectly good wax sculpture – a piece I had sculpted with precision over several months – an image of a woman meditating in the lotus position, and just dropped it on the floor. I destroyed what I made. I was letting it all go. It was scary. It shattered into so many pieces. My first feeling was, ‘What have I done!?!’ Then, I trusted it would all come together like I envisioned.
“We cast all the pieces in bronze and assembled the pieces so they floated apart from one another. Then I brought in a lighting specialist and we built a crazy lighting system to make it glow from within. It turned out even better than I thought. And the best is that the image of Expansion means so much to so many who see it. I get letters every day! I feel like I really did my job successfully!”
In addition to her story, Bradley also shared with us some never-before-seen photos of the sculpture at different angles. Can’t get enough of these!
Versions of the original piece can be seen in London, UK at Panter and Hall Fine Art or at Classic Art Gallery in Palm Desert, California. The original one, which was photographed in 2004 with the New York City skyline, is coming up for auction.
Make sure to drop by Paige Bradley’s website to keep up with her wonderful work.