Survival of Serena and Immigration

In the late seventies and early eighties, Carole and her family lived in a house in Key West in Florida.  She would see Cuban asylum seekers floating to shore on rafts they had strapped together out of inner tubes and driftwood.  She was greatly affected.

Since 1966, seven years after the Cuban revolution put Fidel Castro in power and in the context of the Cold War, the US had viewed Cubans as political refugees eligible for US citizenship if they could just make it to the country. However, because of travel restrictions and limited resources, those desperate to leave the country scavenged raft materials and inner tubes to become balseros, attempting to float across the Caribbean waters to the Keys.

When balseros made it to Florida they were destroyed by the journey: dehydrated, sun-sick, hypothermic, starving.  However, they also become an integral part of the Florida and US community: in total more than a million would eventually call the state home.

Seeing these refugees, Carole was moved to produce Innertube Variant II, the torso and arms of a woman resting her head on an innertube.  It has been made and re-made since the 1980s in many forms, coming to be known as Survival of Serena.  

Survival of Serena

Survival of Serena

In one of the first blog posts I wrote after I started working at the studio, I talked about the “Miniature Serena” I had been learning to lay-up with resin to make a piece in the edition:

Yesterday a senior fabricator, Natasha Rodriguez, started teaching me how to do the lay-up of one of Carole’s sculptures, a Mini Serena.  Serena is resting on an inner tube, her head on her arm.  She looks tired and self-satisfied.  Talking with one of the artists here, Heath Wang, he said he saw in it the story of a woman who has escaped abuse and created a new life for herself, and is resting in that moment of security she has created… I'm attracted to Serena's floating, mobile self-security.

Learning more about the history of Survival of Serena in the time since, I’ve come to appreciate it as one of Carole’s most important works.  This sculpture can be more specifically discussed in a political context as an immigrant narrative and a refugee problem.  The floating figure is a direct reference to the experience of crossing the water that Carole watched the balseros take again and again.  

That self-security is something Survival of Serenahas won on the back of her journey as an immigrant, and that is part of why the sculpture has remained one of Carole’s most popular pieces. It has a resonance through different refugee crises that the US and the world have encountered since.  Those who view Survival of Serena can connect it to the Cuban balseros, but it can also be linked to the Honduran, Guatemalan, and Salvadoran families that have been escaping Central American violence since the 1990s.

A Mexican border patrol agent looks out at the river at the border with Guatemala. Photo by N. Parish Flannery @LatAmLENS.

A Mexican border patrol agent looks out at the river at the border with Guatemala. Photo by N. Parish Flannery @LatAmLENS.

That violence has roots in the United States.  Many Central American criminal organizations can be traced back to Los Angeles, the weapons they use to control and terrorize are primarily a US export, and the market that they sell narcotics to is the US.  Many of the migrants who flee this violence are children and women who choose not to cooperate with these gangs and are faced with death. They have an aspiration to become Survival of Serena, to have built their own self security.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration is actively seeking to destroy that possibility for migrants from Central America and from around the world.  

The public debate on migration in this country is centered on the intense coverage of family separations occurring this summer on the US-Mexico border. It’s reported that more than 2000 children have been separated from their parents while those parents are being detained and tried criminally for illegal entry into the country, even if they have a legitimate claim to asylum.  Meanwhile, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has released recommendations for strict limitations on what an asylum claim looks like, by rejecting the threat of gang or domestic violence as valid grounds for a claim.

Additionally, Trump has successfully pursued a ban on travel and immigration of those from five Muslim-majority countries (along with North Korea and officials of the Venezuelan government), a ban which was recently upheld by the Supreme Court in Trump v. Hawaii.  Two of the countries, Syria and Yemen, are currently undergoing civil wars that the US fights in and supports, creating a massive refugee crisis that the Middle East and Europe have largely borne the weight of.  However, those Yemenis and Syrians who have family in the US and even with US citizen children are now unable to come to the US by any means, continuing the administration’s policy of family separation.

Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions aspire to destroy the meaning and hope of Survival of Serena’s meaning and to destroy that aspiration to a safe and peaceful life for those who are threatened by violence that is often a US export in the first place.  

Ultimately I just want to say this: more than half of the people who work in Carole’s studio right now were born outside the US, myself included.  Carole herself is born of immigrant grandparents escaping Hitler, and being allowed to have asylum in the USA. Our lives have been profoundly affected by the vagaries of policy around migration and immigration in this country and abroad. Making sculptures themselves is not an effective way to fight immoral policy, but producing symbols that have cultural resonance is tool that can be used to suggest moral, aspirational alternatives if the conversation around those symbols happens.

Carole says that Survival of Serena is a universal sculpture. She points to the fact that even for those who weren’t born outside of the US, migration have been a part of most families’ experience.  There have been so many different migrations: those who are refugees from war or famine or flood, those who survived the Trail of Tears and colonial terror, those who were enslaved, those who fled north during the Great Migration, those who moved to the suburbs, those who came to cities because rural economies were corporatized, those who escape their families, those who send money back to their families because there are no jobs at home.  I don’t know if Survival of Serena can speak to all of these histories, and exist in dialogue with them, then her mobile self-security is probably the best that all of us who are at the mercy of history can hope for.

—Craig Hartl

Carole Feuerman in the Age of Trump

Here we are, one year into the Trump presidency. This past Saturday I attended a workshop event connecting different activist groups around the city, and one of the questions that came up in that room of organizers, educators, social workers, and students was this: how can people outside of those professions have a political voice and resist oppression?  I think Carole has been answering that question by taking steps to make the political context of her work explicit.

The size and shape of global culture is always changing, but certain reference points become the markers that define an era.  For many, the election of Donald Trump is the dashboard warning signal telling us the truth about our moment in time and culture.  It’s deceptive: Trump did not birth the world we live in.  However, his ascendancy has made it very difficult to deny that there are deep problems with our social system.  

This recognition of the shortcomings of the global political reality has been one of the biggest shifts in American culture in a long time.  Groups like Black Lives Matter that had been attacked in centrist media despite whatever evidence they have presented in support of their cause are now seen as part of the vanguard of the current movement.  The phrase “me, too” that activist Tarana Burke started using to talk about sexual assault in 2006 finally gained viral popularity in 2017, just months after Trump was elected despite the allegations of sexual harassment made against him.

Many powerful individuals have been called to take action.  As a successful woman in a male-dominated industry, Carole has been conscious of the political context of her pieces throughout her career; however, with this newest era she has been especially ignited.  

This past October in Houston, Carole spoke at the International Women’s Forum’s annual World Leadership Conference.  As part of the Ideas Remaking the World segment of the program she called on the women leaders in attendance to become explicitly engaged in the political world through their work.

Carole Feuerman presenting at the 2017 IWF World Leadership Conference.

Carole Feuerman presenting at the 2017 IWF World Leadership Conference.

In her presentation (full speech available here), Carole highlighted Ai Weiwei, Jenny Holzer, and the Guerilla Girls as artists who have successfully “used their art to bring about change.”  She used that as a starting point to talk about a series of her own pieces and how they have been in dialogue with the political reality that she has been confronted with in her life.  This includes works that specifically responded to the news of the time, like Survival of Serena which was created the year after the Mariel boatlift, as well as others that speak more broadly to the position of women in a misogynistic world that has refused again and again to see or hear them.

Carole told me that getting the chance to speak about the context of her work at the forum was an unusual pleasure for her as an artist that speaks primarily through the pieces themselves.  I can understand that frustration; when you present an art object in a public space, as many of Carole’s pieces are, you know that many people will have the chance to see and think about your work but you’ll never find out what most of those people think, and they certainly won’t engage in your piece in the same way that you did.  Speaking to that crowd of leaders gave Carole a chance to frame her pieces for that audience the way she sees them herself.

Carole talking to the crowd about her piece  Chrysalis and the World .

Carole talking to the crowd about her piece Chrysalis and the World.

There’s a complicated relationship between an artist, their piece, the context the piece was created in and the context of the viewers seeing that work.  That relationship is the rich tapestry of meaning that an art object is made of, and it is always changing as the elements that make it up change.  The materials age, the political reality shifts, events that were central to a public’s consciousness in one decade are forgotten.  Even further, when we experience an object any part of that tapestry of meaning can be hidden from us.

So you come into a room where you see two life-like sculptures of female figures.  One is from Carole, and one is from John De Andrea who was another hyperrealist artist in the 1970s.  Isn’t it important, even if the sculptures are superficially similar, that De Andrea is representing the female figure as an outsider to her gendered experience and Carole is depicting that figure as an insider?  

The comparison isn’t meant to be a value judgement between those two sculptures.  From an archaeological perspective, they both can say important things about the culture they’re created within.  It’s just important that the stories they tell about that culture might be different from one another.

At the same time as she attended the conference, Carole’s piece Chrysalis was part of a group exhibition at Pen + Brush in New York called King Woman.  Its curator, Mashonda Tifrere, put together a show of women-identified artists whose works demonstrate that women “are capable of being the pinnacle of power and strength.”  With her participation, Carole was asserting that she sees and experiences the norms of womanhood that society imposes upon her and her work.  However, that acknowledgement empowers her to subvert that imposition and define her practice on her own terms.

Carole is building a full calendar of resistance now.  After King Woman ended in December, she sent DurgaMa Buddha to Los Angeles for INTO ACTION.  INTO ACTION is a week long “social justice festival” where in a combination of installations, performances, and workshops artists are trying to “illuminate [their] resistance” and “take back [their] hope.”  

That combination of resistance and hope is what’s more important now than ever.  This Monday was Martin Luther King Day, fifty years now since his assassination.  This week is the one year anniversary of the Global Women’s March and of Donald Trump’s inauguration.  The air is electric, and it feels like there’s no time to waste.  What stories do we need to hear right now?

—Craig Hartl

To read the full text of Carole's speech to the 2017 IWF World Leadership Conference, click here.

Carole A. Feuerman 2015 Global Exhibitions

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Kendall Island  , 2014. Oil on Resin. 770 x 21 x 38 inches.

Kendall Island, 2014. Oil on Resin. 770 x 21 x 38 inches.

Carole A. Feuerman is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned, influential, and popular hyperrealist sculptors.  Her prolific career spans four decades in which she has pioneered new approaches to sculpture. 

In May, the Double Diver, Feuerman's monumental sculpture towering 36 feet in the air, was installed at NetApp’s headquarters and gifted to the city of Sunnyvale, California. 

Using the innovative technique of dripping molten bronze and utilizing the ability to make 4,800 pounds of bronze balance on six-inch bronze wrists, she pushed the boundaries of both art and physics; creating a sculpture that is truly the first of its kind. 


 

Feuerman is currently exhibiting in Personal Structures, Time Space Existence, Global Art Affairs Foundation, which is part of this year's 2015 Venice Biennale in Italy.

Her solo exhibition, Art in Harbour City, Hong Kong just closed and the sculptures are now going to be touring Asia. They will be shown next at the Daejeon Museum of Art in Daejeon, South Korea in a hyperrealism exhibition opening on Sept 4th. After that they will be exhibited at a museum in the capital city of Seoul.

 

Asia,   1999. Bronze. 83 x 31 x 15 inches.

Asia, 1999. Bronze. 83 x 31 x 15 inches.

Her work is currently on exhibit in a solo show at KM Fine Art in Chicago. 

On August 22nd she is having an outdoor sculpture show at Gerson Zevi Gallery in Water Mill, NY in the Hamptons featuring 13 outdoor bronzes. 

Christina  , 2014. Oil on Bronze. 72 x 19 x 14 inches.

Christina, 2014. Oil on Bronze. 72 x 19 x 14 inches.

October 9th is the opening of another solo show at Hubner & Hubner Gallery in Frankfurt, Germany.

Aria Gallery from Florence, will open their new space in London in mid October with a 2 person show featuring Feuerman.

In the spring of 2016 she will have a New York Solo show and a solo show at the in the DeLand Museum in Florida. 

 

Next Summer  , 2012. Oil on Bronze. 39 x 54 x 50 inches.

Next Summer, 2012. Oil on Bronze. 39 x 54 x 50 inches.

She continues to focus on making figurative sculptures for public and private collections. Feuerman maintains two studios in NY and NJ. On an ongoing basis, Feuerman's work can be seen in selected galleries and museums worldwide.

 

Korea's Largest Hyperrealstic Public Art Exhibtion 'Hyperrealsim: Nothing is Static'

World Renowned, Hyperrealist Sculptor Carole A. Feuerman’s First Show in South Korea

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Carole A. Feuerman has been invited to take part in a major Hyperrealism Group Exhibition at the Daejeon Musuem of Art in Daejeon City, South Korea. The exhibition is entitled Hyperrealism: Nothing is Static and will be running from September 4th through December 20th 2015.

As a veteran hyperrealist, Feuerman is keen to participate in such an exciting milestone for her artistic genre with over 80 works going on display from 16 different artists from eight different countries.

The Golden Mean , 2012. Bronze and 24K Gold Leaf. 150 x 54 x 38 inches. 

The Golden Mean, 2012. Bronze and 24K Gold Leaf. 150 x 54 x 38 inches. 

The Daejeon Museum’s mission with this exhibition is to celebrate and explore the history of Hyperrealism as well as consider its future evolution. This group museum exhibition is scheduled to travel onto Seoul next, followed by Taiwan, then Singapore, and Japan.

Kendall Island , 2014. Oil on Resin. 70 x 21 x 38 inches.

Kendall Island, 2014. Oil on Resin. 70 x 21 x 38 inches.

Through her work, Feuerman seeks to synthesize simulated hyper reality with a masterful illusionary effect that stimulates and elevates everyday reality.

Her sculptures are hailed for their meticulous manipulations of the human form, which translate into tangible presentations of complex, emotive figures that depict individually crystalized narratives.

Monumental Quan , 2012. Oil on Bronze with Stainless Steel. 67 x 60 x 43 inches. 

Monumental Quan, 2012. Oil on Bronze with Stainless Steel. 67 x 60 x 43 inches. 

Feuerman is a virtuoso sculptor capable of reflecting a vast range of human emotions in her work. From wrinkles to veins, the technical prowess honed over a forty-year career is evident in every one of her Swimmers.

Olympus  , 2013. Oil on Resin. 10 x 168 x 66 inches.

Olympus, 2013. Oil on Resin. 10 x 168 x 66 inches.

She confronts viewers with her hyper real figures and challenges them to achieve a fuller actualization of their senses.

Her sculptures are constantly bringing us into deeper dialogue with ourselves about how we define our own reality and whether we are willing to renew that definition.

Are we willing to expand our perceptual horizons as well as defy any or all temporal limitations in order to see infinity in the details of life?

Feuerman exceeds reality and she invites any one bold enough to join her.

Monumental Brooke with Beach Ball , 2011. Oil on Resin. 45 x 60 x 43 inches.

Monumental Brooke with Beach Ball, 2011. Oil on Resin. 45 x 60 x 43 inches.

Capri  , 2013. Oil on Resin. 30 x 20 x 11 inches.

Capri, 2013. Oil on Resin. 30 x 20 x 11 inches.

Balance,   2010. Oil on Resin. 36 x 32 x 18 inches.

Balance, 2010. Oil on Resin. 36 x 32 x 18 inches.


Miami Highilight: 'Golden Mean' at MANA MONUMENTAL

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Carole Feuerman is everywhere in Miami this week- in person and with her artworks showing at various fairs. Among her many works on display, the towering bronze 'Golden Mean' is a fair standout and crowd favorite.  

The Golden Mean   greets visitors as they enter  Mana's Wynwood  campus.

The Golden Mean greets visitors as they enter Mana's Wynwood campus.

This past weekend, the bronze Golden Mean located in snowy Peekskill, NY received a special visit from its model, Richard Nuzzolese.  This photo was taken on-site: 

Richard Nuzzolese with his likeness   The Golden Mean   in Peekskill, where the work permanently resides.

Richard Nuzzolese with his likeness The Golden Mean in Peekskill, where the work permanently resides.

Located at Mana Monumental in their Wynwood campus, the twelve-foot Golden Mean stands proud as the crowds flow around it. If you're in Miami and happen by the work, snap a pic and tag @CaroleFeuerman on Twitter or Instagram.  Enjoy the fairs! 

From Carole: See You In Miami!

by Kelsey Zalimeni, images by David Brown

It's that time of year again- Art Basel Miami Beach is in full swing this week.  Fresh off landing from a previous trip, Carole has packed her bags to hit South Beach today.  She is in for quite possibly the busiest week of her year, with works featuring at nine different venues... yes, nine! The following sites will contain pieces by Carole: Miami Projects, Art Miami, Context Miami, Scope Miami, Mana Miami, GLE at Mana, Red Dot Art Fair, and Wynwood Space.  


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Despite her manic schedule for Miami, Carole wants everyone to feel welcome to spot and approach her throughout the week.  

She will be donning her distinct jacket (pictured above) so that anyone who wishes to introduce themselves and ask questions can do just that.  Keep an eye out for that blue and black print, and don't be shy about saying hello! 

You can also give Carole a shout on Twitter this week- tweet @CaroleFeuerman with a comment or tagged image of her works around the fairs.  

 

'Kendall Island' To Be Featured At SCOPE MIAMI

by Kelsey Zalimeni

Carole Feuerman's 'Kendall Island' will exhibit at the Gallery Biba booth in Scope Miami this year, alongside works by Mel Bochner and Barbara Segal.  The eye-catching piece is in fact a portrait of Mana Contemporary's marketing director Kendall Tichner, who donned an edgy Chromat suit for the casting.  

Scope Miami opens December 2 and will run all week until closing on the 7th.  Be sure to drop by the Scope Miami Beach Pavilion to witness 'Kendall Island' in person at Gallery Biba, BOOTH G13.

'Mona Lisa' to be Exhibited at CONTEXT Art Miami in December

Visit CONTEXT Art Miami this December and see Carole A. Feuerman's lifesize hyperrealistic sculpture, Mona Lisa.  Courtesy of Opiom Gallery, Feuerman's work will be on-view in BOOTH E68The CONTEXT Art Miami Pavilion is located in Midtown Miami at 2901 NE 1st Avenue, Miami, Florida 33137.  Tickets can be purchased at www.contextartmiami.com.

Context Miami - Mona Lisa