The Art: Expansion
The Artist: Paige Bradley
In 2004, renowned Californian sculptor Paige Bradley relocated to New York, and found herself surrounded by curators and critics who had declared figure sculpting a style of the past. They claimed the future of art was about vision, not technique. Pieces were removed from exhibition across the city, causing many figurative sculptors to give up their craft in pursuit of new work.
In response, Bradley destroyed her art. Literally. A wax figure that she had sculpted carefully over many months was shattered upon the floor in her studio. And as she looked upon the remains, Bradley found her vision.
Bradley collected the pieces and cast them in bronze, before arranging them in such a way that they seemed to float apart from one another. Then, she had a light fixture installed that made the subject appear to glow from within.
The result was Expansion, a title that not only reflects its importance in the process of Bradley’s career, but a philosophical reflection on breaking the mould.
“From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a box already built for us to fit inside. Our umbilical cord never seems to be severed; we only find new needs to fill. If we disconnected and severed our attachments, would we shatter our confinements and expand beyond our shell? Would the world look different? Would we recognize ourselves? Are we the box that we are inside, and to be authentically ‘un-contained’ would we still be able to exist? This is the irony of containment. As long as we don’t push on the walls of our surroundings, we may never know how strong we really are.”
Bradley was the assistant sculptor on the 1995 monument for the Atalanta Olympic Games, and her work has been exhibited around the world, but Expansion remains her most popular creation to date.