POUGHKEEPSIE, NY.- Works by the sculptor Strong-Cuevas, including those in her new exhibition Thought Travels, often suggest objects produced by mighty civilizations. Comparisons can be made to figures seen, for example, in Mayan and Egyptian art, from the profiles of people depicted in narrative wall paintings to the simple lines of works in stone made in tribute to revered rulers and omnipotent deities, including the enigmatic heads of Easter Island. Thought Travels will be exhibited Thursday, October 26, through Sunday, November 12, in the James W. Palmer Gallery of the College Center at Vassar College.
"With telescope eyes looking out to the universe, my work suggests space exploration, while the heads with double or more profiles suggest the complementarity of opposites, of psychological divisions, united in the unity of consciousness, "said Strong-Cuevas. "Communication through space and time is what I seek to express, linking the ideas of the past with those of the future. The human face is the symbol I use.
In the mid-1960s Strong-Cuevas first studied wood and stone carving under John Hovannes at the Art Students League of New York, and she went on to apprentice in Hovannes' studio until his death in 1973. She then partnered for several years with Swiss sculptor and metalworker Toto Meylan, and began creating her own works.
"With John Hovannes I learnt how to carve marble, but as my themes took shape, I found modeling in wax and in plaster (for large works) more to my liking, as modeling allowed for greater freedom of form. Thus I came to be a worker in metal, since modeled pieces were later cast in bronze, or stainless steel," she recalled.
From fabricated metal to cast bronze and stainless steel, Strong-Cuevas's work is now wide ranging. Careful attention is also paid to the surface of her sculptures. According to the medium, some are polished to a gleaming finish, some are brushed, and others are treated with a patina.
"Strong-Cuevas' bronze sculptures contain a great deal of psychic energy," said The New York Times. "Isolated facial features removed from context, enclosed mysterious spaces, meticulously polished surfaces and a certain ritualistic quality, all help to generate this spiritual feeling."
One-person shows of Strong-Cuevas sculptures have been exhibited at Lee Ault & Company (New York), Tower Gallery (Southampton), Iolas-Jackson Gallery (New York), Guild Hall Museum (East Hampton), Benton Gallery (Southampton), Grounds for Sculpture (Hamilton, NJ), and Island Weiss Gallery (New York). Her works have also been in groups shows throughout the U.S. and Europe, and are in the permanent collections of the Bruce Museum (Greenwich, CT), Heckscher Museum (Huntington, NY), Guild Hall Museum, and Grounds for Sculpture.
The documentary film Strong-Cuevas Sculpture, by Lana Jokel, follows the artist from her studio in Amagansett, NY to the foundry up the Hudson where her pieces take their final shape. Strong-Cuevas is represented by her agent, Island Weiss, of Island Weiss Gallery in New York.