With its formal elegance and potent symbolism, the vessel form has captivated artists since prehistoric times—a holder of objects and ideas, as well as a vehicle for voyaging to distant lands. This iconic form has been central to Raine Bedsole’s artistic practice since 1990, when she dreamt of a boat sailing through the sky—an enigmatic vision that inspired her to create the boat sculptures that have become one of her signature motifs. In her new exhibition, Vessel, at Callan Contemporary, she explores the vessel’s material and thematic permutations in a suite of mixed-media sculptures and works on paper, which connect contemporary viewers to realms of history, literature, and mythology. The exhibition’s cast-bronze sculptures range from works small enough to hold in one’s hand to the commanding tour de force entitled Vessel. In hanging, pedestal-mounted, and wall-mounted artworks, all newly created, she offers a dynamic sampling of recent and longstanding series. Among these are the Karyatid figures, titled after the maidens who hold up the entablature of the Temple of Athena at the Acropolis—powerful symbols of female strength—and the Temple sculptures, which house mystical figures and symbols that transcend nationality and belief systems.
Bedsole earned an undergraduate degree in art from Auburn University and an M.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute. Her works are included in prestigious corporate and private collections around the world, as well as in public collections such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, South Carolina Museum of Art, and Mobile Museum of Art. A recipient of public-art grants from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, she created the large-scale sculpture, Nomad, installed last year in downtown New Orleans as part of the Poydras Corridor Sculpture Exhibition, presented by the Helis Foundation. Her monumental work in sculpted steel, Justitia, is on permanent display at the U.S. Federal Courthouse, Southern District of Alabama. She has also been a visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome and Kent State University. Her career is the subject of a 250-page monograph, Material/Myth/ Metaphor: The Artistic Vision of Raine Bedsole, published by Callan Contemporary. Incorporating a wide array of media—metals, textiles, found papers, and semiprecious stones among them—her sculptures and works on paper have a mysterious, meditative quality, weaving open-ended narratives drawn from the worlds of archetype and allegory.
- by Richard Speer