Though artist George Anthonisen struggled with dyslexia as a child, he found a new medium through which to express himself in sculpture during a college art class, and he expounded on that discovery at a Jonathan Edwards College Master’s Tea Thursday night.
In front of a crowd of about 40 students, Anthonisen — who works with bronze in both bas-relief and three-dimensional forms — described his sources of inspiration and the creative process that leads him from initial idea to finished product. He was joined by Lisa Hanover, director of the Muriel Berman Museum of Art at Ursinus College, who highlighted several of his pieces that will be on exhibition on the JE Master’s House patio through November.
Anthonisen said that when he discovered sculpture, he was able to translate his voice into a visual form.
“As soon as my hands began working the clay, my thoughts began going faster than I could control them, and for me that was miraculous,” he said.
When Anthonisen begins a project, he said, he works in clay and then changes to plaster of Paris, which he can paint with shellac and powder paints to simulate the reflections of the bronze.
“I start with an idea which is often quite mundane, and it really changes and comes to fruition within the clay,” he said. “One of the most important things I try to do is give the viewer a sense of focus, and so you will see varying degrees of refinement up to the focus.”
Anthonisen described his displayed 1981 work “Creation,” which features a man and a woman converging above a swirling vortex, for students at the tea.
Students at the event said they were impressed with the candid responses both Anthonisen and Hanover gave to questions from the audience.
“Many artists are much more guarded, but Anthonisen seemed excited to have an outlet,” Emily Hallet ’09 said. “
Zai Divecha ’10, who toured the exhibit during the reception at the conclusion of the event, said she was impressed with the overall form of Anthonisen’s sculptures, but found some features to be too simplistic.
“The figures and gestures are all so evocative, but in some sculptures the eyes are so simple that the sculpture is reduced to almost a caricature,” Divecha said.
Yayone Rivaud ’09 said she found Anthonisen’s sculpture to be personally affecting.
“I have never really felt moved by sculpture before, but these are so luminous and so intimate that I’m in awe,” she said.
Anthonisen, who was born in Massachusetts, is known for his erotic and humanistic themes, which are influenced by turn-of-the-century French sculptor Auguste Rodin.