Amorde works primarily from live models with her figurative work, creating her sculptures in terra cotta clay, hydrocal, bronze, wax, and mixed media. Sculptures such as “Leaning Left Bookend or Not” and “Leaning Right Bookend or Not,” are supple bronze figures that seem to be melting into the thick bronze blocks on which they’re reclining. Long-legged and curvy, these women evoke the longing to move, and the comfort of remaining in place. Also reclining is the full color vibrancy of “Maura,” a hydrocal figure on a terry-cloth pool raft. Maura is a big bodied, jubilant nude, smiling at an unseen sun, amusing us with her dominance and joy, a whimsical figure with an edge. Mixing hydrocal and bronze on a marble base, “Shadow (The King)” is a stately bust of a young man wearing a crown. Study him to see his vulnerability, arrogance, longing; a shadow of the youth and power that will fade in time is etched in his eyes. “My practice explores the human form and emotions as we navigate life’s challenges,” Amorde says. Her expressionist style is beautifully suited for this twinned exploration.
More surreal, Amorde’s series “Baggage” is the artist’s “personal examination of the universal themes associated with how what we carry around impacts our identity.” Using mixed media to explore both the literal and metaphorical meaning of baggage, the artist works from the premise that everyone carries some baggage with them in life, whether figurative, metaphysical, or emotional. Amorde “investigates how such baggage is perceived, how it feels, and how it impacts the living of our lives.” Integrating her sculptures with suitcases, suitcase parts, and other mixed media and found objects, many of her installations are large scale, as sweeping in scope as the baggage that we all carry in our lives. Amorde has plans for future works in this series that will include found objects, audio and video.
Like her subjects, Amorde doesn’t travel light. Each piece in the “Baggage” series is quite literally freighted with meaning. “Zebra and the Red Pillow,” a mixed media and polychromed ceramic work, features a dazzlingly white and zebra-striped woman with haunted eyes lying on a red pillow which is positioned inside a zebra-striped travel bag.
She’s made her bed and isn’t sure she wants to lie in it, and is certainly not ready for the lid to close. Her long, pale, striped body is a part of that bag and she an evocation of it, and the life she’s made for herself. “Untitled (Baggage Station)” is a massive 7 ft. by 7 ft. mixed media installation of a variety of suitcases positioned on wooden storage shelves. The shapes and positioning of the suitcases – in all sizes and colors – reminds the viewer of people waiting to travel, waiting to perhaps shed their outer skin or inner problems and pass on without the baggage both imply.
“Wounded Baggage” joins a dart board studded with bloody arrows to the surface of an aging green suitcase. Both immediately accessible and defiantly surreal, the piece calls the viewer to understand, and challenges the idea of literally carrying on in the face of adversity. The artist seems to posit the question – just what are we carrying on?
Both Amorde’s figures and installation art have a mystical quality that belies the intensity of her expression. “I am drawn to sculpting the human form in narratives about challenges and mysteries in life. Equally appealing to me are portraits and studies of the figure that are celebrations of individuality. For me, sculpting people and their ‘baggage’ provides me with an endlessly fascinating journey of creative expression,” Amorde says.
The Los Angeles based artist was born in Washington, D.C., grew up in LA, and has a BFA from California State University, Long Beach. She recently exhibited at the Zero Down exhibition at 1019 West in Inglewood, the DAB Art Ventura at the HUD Gallery in Ventura, Calif. and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) in Los Angeles’ Barnsdall Park. Exhibiting since 2000, Amorde has shown at Gallery 825, the TAG Gallery in Santa Monica, Gallery Godo in Glendale, and at the Getty Underground at the J. Paul Getty Museum/Villa in Malibu, Calif. among many other galleries and museums.
Amorde lives in Los Angeles and maintains a studio in Inglewood, Calif. Exhibiting both locally and nationally, she’s on the web at www.susanamorde.com.