Ira Wiesenfeld, Texas Sculpture Group
From Tucson, Arizona
As an artist-blacksmith I forge and weld organic forms, sometimes using found metal objects. The three Devil's Claw Angels (for San Angelo) were inspired by the devil's claw plant and it's seedpods, which grow in the Southwest. The pods are meant to attach to a passing animal and thus be spread. When I studied them I saw a winged female form, and forged several iterations of this unique seedpod.
I was the scientist in an artistic family, growing up in the burbs of New York City. The first half of my life was spent developing my left brain, as a veterinarian and an environmentalist, growing living (replantable) Christmas trees on my small farm in Tucson.
I was always aware, though, that something was missing in my life, and a doozy of a midlife crisis and dark night of the soul showed me what it was. My life changed dramatically after that, and one of the changes was to replace one passion, playing polo, with a new passion, blacksmithing. For ten years, while working and raising my children, time for forging was limited; then, fifteen years ago I sold my veterinary practice and started working in my smithy full time, developing my right brain. I took art and sculpture courses at Pima Community College, read extensively, and gave myself permission to play with iron. The result was a style of organic, usually botanical forms, and a love of forging and welding found objects into furniture and sculpture. I forged empty nests when my kids went off to college, and “branched out” to aquatic and landscape dioramas.
I enjoy forging and welding pieces that are purely decorative, pieces that are unique and functional, and ones that are conceptual and have a narrative. The important thing for me is the time spent in my shop, in the zone, playing.