Tip Toland

I have loved the figure, especially the face for as long as I can remember. All through my youth I spent hours reconfiguring the face and each feature in endless doodles, never tiring of the possibilities. Drawing was all I ever knew until I took a ceramics class in college which changed everything. Although I used clay primarily two dimensionally for the next 25 years, there was something very meaningful about clay and its potential for sculpture that got under my skin. In 2002 I took the leap and began to bring the bas relief figures off of the slab and see if I could realize them three dimensionally. This was more daunting that I had thought and I realized I needed to return to school to study anatomy. Slowly the figures became less frozen, more naturalized and larger. I love the narrative and every one of the figures I make has a story. 


I begin with small, unedited thumbnail drawings and return to view them anywhere from one week to one year after sketching them. Those figures that continue to hold my attention and call out to me, become sculpture. I begin sculpting them with a strong sense of their character, yet further into the process the figures themselves often dictate to me how I need to develop them. In this way I feel akin to a writer whose characters start to emerge on their own. This is very captivating for me. Scale, and other components of

the context become clear at the drawing stage.  Overall, my concern is to realize these figures as honest and vulnerable, bringing what is overlooked, personal or uncomfortable to light. This effort is to expose our shared humanity.

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