- Christine Kaiser’s limited-edition basswood sculptures like “Forgotten” explore abstractions through carved figures enhanced with graphite and paint.
It’s only safe to make one assumption about Christine Kaiser‘s work: don’t make assumptions. Here’s a clue—it’s not clay. She’s been working with wood for more than 20 years, sanding it so smoothly you can’t tell what it’s made of until you pick it up.
Most of Kaiser’s work is made of basswood, a renewable North American hardwood with a straight grain “that carves, sands and takes paint nicely.” She cuts the wood with a band saw, shapes it with a belt sander and adds carved details with a rotary tool. Then she injects life into the work with multiple layers of water-based paints and graphite drawings, achieving a soft finish with layers of matte varnish.
Kaiser hasn’t always created sculpture. She has roots in the fine art world. After earning degrees from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and Tufts University in Medford, Mass., in the 1970s, Kaiser pursued large figurative wall sculpture and worked at a Boston gallery repairing papier-maché and metal sculpture. “The work was very exacting,” she says. “I got pretty obsessive about it. This was where I learned many of the skills that are used in my work today.”
Kaiser’s current work consists of two main lines: what she calls “Anxieties”—3-inch-high, brightly painted sculptures with wild hair and personalities to match—and limited-edition small sculpture.
The Anxieties never start as sketches—they appear in batches of 10. An extra day in the studio in 2005 led to the first set. “The Anxieties are neuroses, psychoses,” she explains. Each is given unique features, both emulating and suppressing an assigned emotion.
In 2008, when looking for a bridge between her Anxieties and one-of-a-kind sculpture, Kaiser decided to try limited-edition, small-scale sculpture.
The bottom line? “I want my pieces to have multiple meanings and interpretations,” Kaiser says. “The world is complicated; we are complicated in the world.”
View her work at www.christinekaiser.com.