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Kimball gains new permanent piece

By MATT JAMES

, Of the Record staff

Take a walk through the Badami Gallery in the Kimball Art Center, and you’ll likely notice a new piece of artwork. Its surface shines, glossy, almost luminescent green, grooved with long, sweeping cuts and accented with round edges on one side while rutted with angular hollows on another. Six cast-bronze cinderblocks support its weight.

The work, named "Calyx," is a jade sculpture by Colorado Springs-based artist Hellen Eberhardie-Heaven and it is the newest piece in the Kimball’s permanent collection. The stone appeared at the art center on Tuesday and made its first official public appearance on Thursday.

"I’ve been working on this since the summer," said Eberhardie-Heaven. Primarily a stone-sculptor, Eberhardie-Heaven specializes in installation pieces. One of her works, "Flamebird" can be seen at the Swaner Nature Preserve, and another sculpture, "Snow Spirit," is displayed on the National Ability Center campus. "Flamebird" is a golden, bird-like figure perched on a bronze post, and "Snow Spirit" is a ghost-like marble woman carved from a block of Colorado Yule Marble. On the advice of a friend, Eberhardie-Heaven found the stone for "Calyx" in southern British Columbia and drove the block, which weighs 350 pounds (carved), back to Colorado Springs. Since she had never worked with jade before, Eberhardie-Heaven talked to some friends for some advice about the stone. There, she learned that the work might be a bit more difficult than she had anticipated. Because she was pregnant at the time and didn’t want to risk hurting her baby, she decided to take a different tack.

So created the work as one would compose a bronze sculpture, carving it from plaster. From there, she sent it to China, along with the stone, where a company that specialized in jade-carving replicated the plaster work. Eberhardie-Heaven said the procedure was a new one for her. "I’ve never had anyone carve my stone for me," she noted. But the method worked, and now the results are on display at the Kimball. The artist said the work was one of her less-representational pieces. "I’d been making sort of semi-figurative [pieces] for a while, and I started thinking about which pieces I liked most," she said

Her thoughts took her back to a large piece, "Tantric Heart," which she made for the International Collection of Women’s Art. A non-figurative piece made of marble and yew wood and looking like a giant, twisted flower, Eberhardie-Heaven said the piece still intrigued her.

"That was a point I hadn’t visited long enough," she said. So she set out down that path again. She said she designed "Calyx" to be a feminine sculpture. It was made to have a feeling of growth and life.

"This piece was very internal," she said. "It’s called ‘Calyx’ because it reminds me of the reproductive parts of a plant." With its angular bronze base, the sculpture does look like some sort of plant, the type one might imagine in a J.R. Tolkien book. But the blocks also have another meaning. They’re the same type of surface on which sculptors place the stones they carve.

"It’s a reference to the practical carving of it," Eberhardie-Heaven said. Kimball visitors can find the work just to the left of the stairs that lead down to the Badami Gallery, sitting about waist-high on the cinder blocks. One can walk around the piece to view it, and Eberhardie-Heaven said the it was made to be touched, so guests should feel free to trace the notches and feel the smooth surfaces. "It’s an articulation of my physical interpretation of things," said Eberhardie-Heaven. And now, it is available for the public to explore.

For more information about the Kimball Art Center, visit http://www.kimball-art.org or call 649-8882.


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