Park City Library director enjoys getting her hands dirty with clay |

Park City Library director enjoys getting her hands dirty with clay

Park City Library Director Adriane Herrick Juarez touches up one of her new clay camel sculptures at her garage studio in Kamas. She began sculpting in 2017. (Tanzi Propst/Park Record)
Tanzi Propst/Park Record

Park City Library Director Adriane Herrick Juarez didn’t know she had a knack for art until she visited the Kimball Art Center’s open clay studio two years ago.

“I was a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program and my ‘Little’ and I went to the studio as an activity,” Herrick Juarez said. “We dug our hands in and the clay just felt right. Right then I realized it was my medium.”

The public can see a sample of Herrick Juarez’s sculptures in a new three-dimensional art display case at the Park City Library.

The works — “The Good Egg,” “The Nest Builder” and “I Hear a Beat … How Sweet” — are all busts of characters that had been bouncing around the artist’s mind.

“Good Egg” depicts a man dressed in an Easter Bunny costume. “The Nest Builder” is a man that has a bird on his head, and “I Hear a Beat … How Sweet” is based on the Tin Man from Frank L. Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” book series.

The concept of the works is a play on “self and being,” Herrick Juarez said.

“When you look at ‘The Good Egg’ you see this person being a good egg by helping kids celebrate a holiday while eating an egg,” she said. “And you have to ask yourself is the Nest Builder the bird on the man’s head, or is it the man whose hair will become a nest?”

“I Hear a Beat … How Sweet” is a little more straightforward, the sculptor said.

“I was inspired by the moment where the Tin Man receives his heart, but I made him so happy that it’s bursting out of his chest,” Herrick Juarez said. “Of course there is that literary inspiration, but I took the character to a different place.”

Herrick Juarez’s creative process is a mix between inspiration and linear narrative, she said.

“Sometimes it will start with an idea of what I want to make and then things will evolve as I’m making them,” she said. “As a librarian, my mind follows a storytelling process in what I create. Some characters from stories will come into my mind, but as I continue to work, the clay will start guiding me.”

Sometimes the result is a character Herrick Juarez didn’t expect, which she said happened with the three works now showing at the library.

“It’s always surprising when that happens,” she said with a laugh. “I’ll finally look at what I’m doing and go, ‘Really? This is what you want to be?’”

Although Herrick Juarez came into her own as a sculptor, she was raised by a creative mother.

“She is a glass and metal artist, so I grew up in a very hands-on environment,” she said.

While Herrick Juarez loved the three-dimensional art her mother forged, the librarian never thought she would create her own works.

“With my mom being a metal artist, I saw how difficult it all was,” she said. “I saw how hard the medium was, but then I started working with clay, which is so forgiving. I mean, anybody can take a piece of clay and play with it.”

After Herrick Juarez’s epiphany, she began buying clay from the Kimball Art Center and sculpting shapes in her garage.

“It’s very zen and therapeutic,” she said. “Working at a public library is very busy, and I’m always on the go. So when I get a little bit of time on the weekend, I have a quiet, contemplative place I can go and immerse myself in this work.”

She is always excited to see how her hands can give a lump of clay life and personality.

“I know that seems pretty wild, but it’s really fun,” she said.

Herrick Juarez enjoys how easy it is to start and restart a project with clay.

“If I don’t like what I’m doing, I can just squish it into something new, or chop it up,” she said. “It’s all about getting your hands in there and seeing what comes out.”

Herrick Juarez started her hobby working with water-based clay, and discovered some drawbacks.

“It’s so porous that it can crack easily as it dries, unless you have a careful drying process,” she said. “Although I love the feel of water-based clay, I fought with it all the time. So I made the move to oil-based clays, which doesn’t crack when it dries.”

Herrick Juarez takes her dried works to Metal Arts Foundry in Lehi for bronzing.

Due to the way the light hits the metallic finish, the bronzing gives her works a form and depth, she said.

“It was amazing to see these sculptures come to life during the transformation from clay to bronze,’ Herrick Juarez said. “I was around metal a lot because of my mom, and, to me, metal has a creaminess to it. So seeing my works in bronze gives them more substance.”

The biggest challenge Herrick Juarez faces with her hobby is overcoming self doubt.

“Coming into art as an adult, it’s about not believing in myself,” she said. “I have had to learn to trust my hands. I have also had to learn to feel confident that people would want to see these things.”

Originally Herrick Juarez wanted to sculpt for herself.

“My only interest was to have them in my house, and I only told a few people about them,” she said. “Then the library got this display case, and we have been wanting to showcase 3-D art. The staff asked if I would consider showing my pieces, and I said, ‘I guess so.’”

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