I start with carefully selected scrap metal. My process is not unlike assembling a 3-D crazy quilt, where each scrap is interesting in its own right, but is redefined by inclusion to become something else entirely. My hope is to create a multi-dimensional drawing where the pockets of air are as interesting as the pieces of metal that create them. The whole drawing is an assemblage of many smaller ones.
The horse started with the four orange legs and the brow of the head. The pieces were in a reject pile on my driveway. As I set them aside to return to the metal recycle yard I saw it. Over time the scythe belly, crumpled corrugated tail and grill flanks fit right in. The chest and neck and ribs expanded it from a flat drawing to a three-sixty illusion: a horse that is moving through time and space. It is present and not present, made of physical material and air.
I am influenced by all the art I have ever seen including Giacometti’s giants in the 1964 World’s Fair, the Parthenon friezes, St. Gauden’s Shaw Memorial, Brancusi’s fish and more importantly his hand carved bases. Magdalena Abakanowicz headless armless crowds placed like chess pieces on invisible grids; John Chamberlain’s ecstasy of crunched cars – each a temple of grandeur from discards. I get permission from the Outsiders and Picasso to use anything within reach. Picasso created magical animals, a deeply moving memorial, homages to the women in his life with cut, bent and welded sheet metal, tools and toys, pipes and scraps.
In the eighties I worked with Peter Schuman of Bread and Puppet Theater. I knew Corita Kent’s work for years, and the artist briefly. Both used the metaphor of Bread – Art is as essential as bread. Both Corita and Peter’s work embodied his manifesto: “Art should wake you up!” I agree.
I want to make a new art influenced by all that I love to look at from the symmetric Cycladic idols and Congo guardians to the dramatic sweeping gestures of Baroque Italian work. My goal is to jump off the plank of fabrication to the next level – story surrounded by layers of imagined context – that artist and viewer contribute equally. I work the skeletal to the surface and the surface to the skeletal. The pulse, history, future of each piece arrives after I finish.
I make my art on weekends, as I have a full time job in technology. But weekdays are all a preparation, a searching and sifting and refining. I will visit my yard with piles of pre-art before and after I commute. I arrange and re-arrange, make drawings on the driveway. Weekends I weld, cut and re-weld until something tells me it is done.
Sometimes I create in collaboration with other artists: Peter Shuman in 1984, Linda Hoffman since 2007, and Robert (Bob) Hesse among them. Bob helped me with the horse and more recently a ten foot giraffe installed on the plaza at the Boston Federal Reserve Bank. He understands how to work with a crane, where significant weight bearing welds need to be and most importantly how to discuss a drawing as it arrives.
Bob and I will have a large installation of work we created together several years ago in Winchester MA. It will be at the Old Frog Pond Sculpture Walk in October 2016, Harvard MA. These are animals and figures that combine Rice Barton wooden forms (Bob’s collection) with scrap metal from my pre-art pile.
When the UPS man jumps out of his truck to walk over to his favorite new piece, I am happy. The work and I should not be alone, I do this in order to give away the experience.
“Grief” 5’h, 2016, the UPS man’s current favorite
I go to the metal yard in Readeville MA to hunt for scrap metal. The mountains of industrial remains are beyond beautiful to me, and convince me every time I go that metal refuse is a full-on full-frontal totally with-it medium.
I carry heavy mud-crusted scrap to the car, often long walks back and forth, to protect the tires from shards of metal on the ground.
The giant haystacks of pipe, waterfalls of sheet metal, underwater landscapes of valves and shredded furnaces all combine to enchant like a 3-D anime. The art here is random, unplanned, muscular, poetic, musical. I frame it with my phone camera and take away weightless impressions.
These images are the genome of my welded work.
Short List of Public Work:
Giraffe, Ostrich, Mr.Bo Jangles, Seated Angel
Federal Reserve Plaza, Boston MA
Milton Cemetery, Milton, MA
Enduring American Spirit
Eight Figures – Austin Ranch Mews – Dallas,Texas
San Bernardo, CA
Minutemen and D.A.R, two centuries in tandem
Fort Washington Park Cambridge MA
Written by James Thompson, Curator
Chasing the Image, Madeleine Lord and Sally Massengale,
Asheville Art Museum, Asheville North Carolina
October 2012 – January 2013.
Madeleine Lord has been making her art all her life. A childhood student in her
paternal grandmother Katharine Lord’s Evanston Illinois Art Academy, she took to heart her grandmother’s advice: don’t worry about being an artist, just ask yourself if you can stop – if not, your life will be about making art and that is all there is.
Madeleine majored in art at Smith College, where Leonard Baskin taught print making and professor Elliot Offner stated if you can’t draw you can’t make art.
Madeleine always worked on her art no matter the claims of marriage or single mothering. Her oeuvre includes drawing, painting, woodcut prints, monoprints, photography, and animation as well as metal sculpture. She started working with steel in an adult ed. class at Shawsheen Vocational High School in Billerica MA in 1983. Her first public work “Revolutionary Figures” was installed at Fort Washington Park, Cambridge MA in 1987. It included four life size minutemen based on photos she took at re-enactments, and a figure of a woman representing the D.A.R. who in the late 19th century transformed the fort to a park.
In the past twenty years she has created both large public works as well as many small steel sculptures for homes or gardens. Her work has been included in Chesterwood MA. Contemporary Sculpture, and was featured in Sculpture Fest, Woodstock Vermont in 2002. In 2003 she created a 9/11 Memorial, “The Enduring American Spirit” for Whitinsville MA, and was invited to design a garden installation for the City of Chicago’s Millenium Park opening celebration in 2003.
Her recent work combines found scrap metal into figures, flowers and animals. She visits metal waste yards to search for ingredients, and friends leave things in her driveway. Each piece starts with gathering – looking for scraps which are interesting by themselves. How they end up is unpredictable. Finished work is the result of “choice and fit” in the words of the late John Chamberlain. Subjects appear from the scraps or from the news or even the occasional leak from personal history.
Alumna of Sewickley Academy, Santa Catalina Monterey CA, and Smith College Northampton MA, Madeleine has an MBA from Lesley University. Weekdays she is an IT professional, marketing database specialist.