Eisner interviewed by Pick Keobandith, Director, Qu-Art, Brussels
Why do you make sculpture? And what do you like in it?
Carole Eisner: The short answer is it makes me happy to make
sculptures. I feel fulfilled. I am doing something that takes thought,
vision, (often unique), using my resources to capacity, solving problems
that are presented by making a work of art. Developing new thought
processes, always going outside the box. I love the material. I find
steel is malleable and yields to prodding. It also has a mind of it's
own and wants to go back to it's original shape. I have to figure
out how to make it stay where I direct it. One can add, take away
and add again. When finished, only the structure is visible, the struggle
to get there is not apparent. Steel lends itself to monumental scale
construction. I like large things. I also like the process of welding.
That's just a quick response.
P.K.: When did you start sculpture ?
C.E.: I started making sculpture in college where I took
an introductory sculpture class. We worked in many mediums as we were
learning different techniques: clay, wood and stone. We also made
armatures and mixed cement to make models. I enjoyed working in wood
and stone. The downside was that once you chipped something off, you
couldn't change your mind. With cement on an armature, it was like
working in clay, but I liked the tactile quality better. I seemed
more permanent. I was unaware of direct metal sculpture at the time,
though it was being developed as an art form in Europe and by David
Smith in America.
I didn't start to make sculpture again until I was married with children.
I was home, pregnant with my fifth child, when a friend called and
asked if I would like to learn to weld in her aunt's studio. I didn't
know what welding was, but headed right down to the studio where I
began a new career.
P.K.: It's your second solo exhibition in Europe. Can you
tell us about the sculptures you will show in the garden of Abbaye
de La Cambre and in the Galerie Valérie Bach - “Le Café
sculptures in the Abbaye de La Cambre, and some at Le Café
Français were made from scrap steel found in large metal recycling
yards. At the time I did these sculptures, I shared a studio with
another woman. Not only did we share welding equipment and
space, but we also had a very large dump truck take us to distant
steel yards and cart our finds back to the studio. From the mountains
of scrap steel, we each chose entirely different objects to make our
sculpture. We critiqued each other’s work and supported each
other with our manual labor. In designing a sculpture, the steel objects
I chose suggest to me various alternatives and constructions. I spend
time considering the different options and envisioning the final form.
Starting a new sculpture, I scan my own scrap heap and choose two
or three objects that look like they belong together. I begin by joining
these pieces and further develop the sculpture from there. I usually
don’t sketch anything in advance. The process is more of an
instinctive assemblage than a pre-prepared idea. My concern is that
the sculpture should be gestural, light and airy using forms that
and belie the heavy and industrial qualities of the steel. I have
used parts of bridges, railroad track and train gears, window frames
and containers of all sorts. I juxtapose whimsical pieces with geometric
and utilitarian parts to make a cognitive whole. Instead of using
all scrap steel, my smaller work incorporates many shapes cut to my
specifications. I've finished some of the smaller work to a high silver
shine, accomplished by using a special grinding wheel. The larger
sculptures, in the garden are allowed to rust, then cleaned with a
wire brush to a uniform color. I then spray them with a clear acrylic
varnish to preserve their finish from the weather.