Illuminations: Carol Alleman

Illuminations: Carol Alleman

Published online courtesy Western Art & Architecture, August/September, 2014

Bronze sculptor Carol Alleman chooses the vessel as her medium because of the versatility of the shape and the inherent symbolism. Her sculptural lines are both delicate and lyrical, gracing each piece with a body of discovery that evolves organically, once Alleman has researched the subject exhaustively.

"Many times I will begin with a form and a shape and ask myself a question: Who lives in this shape? Who speaks through this form?” Alleman says. “Sometimes I'll be inspired by a particular plant or tree and it can begin that way.”

The vessel is so important to Alleman that it has become her signature form. “It enhances and reflects the essence of both longevity and change,” she says. “It’s a mirror of how I live and how I work. The shape itself is an ancient form and holds feminine qualities, remaining open to receive, pouring forth the contents as nourishing, to renew the cycle by sharing. To me that is what nature demonstrates for us over and over and over. To receive whatever comes, to share and to do this cyclically.”

Besides the form itself, working in bronze is also cyclical. “The patina changes not unlike the seasons, it changes as the piece ages and we change as we age as well,” Alleman says. Often referred to by her collectors as a gardener of the soul, Alleman signifies her work spiritually. “There’s a mystical quality to what I do,”she says. “I share the inspiration of what goes through my mind as I m sculpting. What nature reveals to us. Nature is a perfect map for living. If we watch and we listen, it’s this immensely wise and beautiful guide for life.”

With every vessel, Alleman offers a poem that reveals her innermost journey when creating the sculpture. “They’re companion pieces. The writing is almost as important as the visual artwork,”she says. “It feels more like a marriage to me: I will write about facts relevant to the piece and how it inspired me during the sculpting process.”

Another unique aspect of Alleman’s work is the size of her editions. “It's always something symbolic about the vessel itself,” she says. “There is a great deal of symbolism in my work, sometimes visible, while often cloaked. Seeds of Harmony, for example, is all about the number nine and it presents with nine pomegranates and the edition size is 45.” That is because when adding the numbers one through nine, the sum is 45. The Raven edition size is 37, with three ravens nesting in seven trees.

Because of every bit of work Alleman puts into a piece, the research isn’t done until the piece is done. “I’m almost always amazed,” she says. “Even though I research the plant or tree ahead of time, by the time I finish the piece there are always these huge parts that are revealed about the essence or wisdom of that plant or tree that, in the end, I hadn’t thought of — a spiritual lesson — these 'aha' moments.”

Alleman’s work is highly collected. She is represented by Gallery MAR in Park City, Utah; Kneeland Gallery in Ketchum, Idaho; Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery in Tucson, Arizona; Rare Gallery in Jackson, Wyoming; Redfern Gallery in Laguna Beach, California; Scottsdale Fine Art in Scottsdale, Arizona; and Thornwood Gallery in Houston,Texas.