Babette Bloch: Steel Garden
Babette Bloch is a pioneer in the use of laser-cut and water-jet stainless steel to create evocative works of art. Her sculptures explore form and the interplay between object and light, reflect their environments, and expand the ways in which stainless steel is used in contemporary art. Bloch received both classical and modern training, at the University of California, Davis including study with legendary artists Wayne Thiebaud, Robert Arneson, and Manuel Neri. Her personal style embraces her eclectic tastes, her sometimes-whimsical visions, her pleasure in aesthetics, and her technical curiosity.
She divides her time between site-specific one-of-a-kind public artworks and her limited edition work. Drawing on several traditions in American art, she creates works that touch on Modernist abstraction, the cut outs and collage found in Pop art, and the long-standing practice of story telling in art.
Bloch develops exquisitely refined black-on-white drawings that are then computer scanned. To the scale she has chosen, a computer-driven laser beam precisely cuts the forms out of sheets of stainless steel. Bloch then wields a hand-held grinding machine as her paintbrush, adding lyricism and dimensionality to each laser-cut section. Working with industrial shaping machinery, the works are shaped and finely welded. The completed sculptures are both reflective of surroundings colors, and compelling portals to the landscape beyond. They have been described as “ethereal, magical and transportive.”
In her larger works, Bloch dialogues with structural engineers in refining the drawings and determining the thickness and the connections of the metal sections. Works range from tabletop scale to her monumental vase series, some of which are well over 6′ tall. Bloch’s Reflecting Nature Series has been broadly collected in the U.S. and Europe.
Babette Bloch’s large-scale public commissions include two 9′ high Pioneers in Fennville, MI and four 9′ high Lowcountry Trail figures at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet, SC. These historic figures are part of her Reflecting History Series. Her 16′ high stainless steel Vitruvian Man monument dedicated to the genius of Leonardo da Vinci was unveiled in the fall of 2012. In 2014, Bloch installed Magna Magnolias, 20′ x 9′ high wall sculpture at the Mattatuck Museum of Art for her exhibit Steel Garden: Babette Bloch. Magna Magnolias is now installed at the Housatonic Museum of Art through December 4, 2015. On view at the Manhattan gallery of Portraits, Inc. are sculptures from her Reflecting Nature series. A one-person show is scheduled at Harmon Meek Gallery, Naples, FL in February 2016.
Bloch’s works are in the permanent collections of Brookgreen Gardens; Orlando Museum of Art, Orlando, FL; Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Fort Wayne, IN; Mattatuck Museum of Art, Waterbury, CT; B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum, Washington, DC; Hudson Heritage Farm, Ganges, MI; International Hillel, Washington, DC; Maryland Institute of Art, Baltimore, MD; and numerous private collections in Europe and the U.S.
Bloch has received numerous awards, including those bestowed by the National Arts Club, Salmagundi Club and Museum, and the National Association of Women Artists. She is President ex-officio of the Artists’ Fellowship, Inc. that assists professional fine artists and their families in the event of emergency, disability, or bereavement.