Richard Heller

Walking into my studio and putting my hands on the not yet formed steel or terracotta is my job. What comes next is what comes next. The unknown becomes known.

My interpretation of my art is only my perspective. No one needs my permission nor should they, to see sculpture in a way that pleases or moves them.
I do enjoy, hearing other’s thoughts on my work. It is a compliment for me if a child is drawn to touch one of my sculptures or if a dog barks, growls or steps back from one of my pieces.

Working in terra cotta, I find myself using my hands at first. If I am fortunate the clay embraces me and the figure invites me in.
Next, I use large and small sculpting tools. Some of these tools are older then me.
There are only a few things in life that bring me the hope of salvation: The tears that come with the love of participating in the life of Sitting Bull or the honor of seeing the beauty in old women- to fall in love with what my hands created, knowing all along that I am just a tool of The Creator and am thankful that through my hands I bring beauty into this world from the spiritual elders.

Working in steel, my tools of choice are propane forge, a large coal forge, two-and-one half pound and five pound sledgehammers, a wire-fed welder, a four-and-one-half inch grinder, an eighty-five pound horseshoeing anvil, and a three hundred and fifty pound blacksmith anvil. This is the process that I go through as a man to get permission to touch the feminine in me. When there is no doubt of my maleness I am then allowed to be engaged with the feminine.

Bronze is the finished product of my works in terra cotta and steel, most of the time.
After the sculpture goes though the lost wax process, I chase the piece. For me, it can be as uneventful as instructing the foundry man on grinding a few burrs off a corner.
At other times, I have found myself working many hours at my friends Ezekiel’s annex foundry recreating a wolf’s nose to give it a different emotion or to alter a foot on a human form. Welders and grinders come into play here, which Ezekiel shares graciously.

Whether we are actors, musicians, painters, writers, or sculptures, the responsibility to put our hands, metaphorically speaking, into the clay is ours and ours alone. I only pray that it is for the good of human kind.

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