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ISRAEL taproots_edited_edited.jpg

Susannah Israel was the first short-term Artist in Residence at OCSA*, in April 2023. Residents each work and live in a 900 sq. foot space in the former W. F. Jewett Middle School** by the beautiful Umpqua River. 



As a sculptor living in Oakland's postindustrial corridor, Israel looksed forward to exploring the Umqua river area. Her sculptural work often deals with the meaning of place (Personal Landscapes, Tidal Estuary). The name Umpqua, in the original Takelma language, can mean "dancing water" or "bring across the river," which played a part in the work she created.


   I arrived at Oregon Coast School of Art after a spectacular drive through snowy mountain passes, hail, icy roads and rain. The drive inspired new ideas, as did working in my enormous, second floor workspace with its ever-changing river and mountain views. I began with a set of heads with tree crowns derived from the fir, spruce, pine, hemlock and cedar trees in the coastal region.

   I have always admired Free Ceramics, run by Matt and Emily Free Wilson in one of the studios in the School, which they also cofounded. It has been a natural choice to use the same clay and glazes, challenging myself with new materials. During the residency, I'll be working with a new palette of black, green, blue and orange on a white surface.  Below are some images from my first week.



Color application finished, first six Tree Crown heads drying for the kiln. Fir, Pine, Spruce, Hemlock. Pine, Fir.  I did a throwing demonstration for the Tuesday night adult class which is a wonderful group, and will be teach the high school class on Wednesday afternoon. I am beginning work on a sited piece which will remain permanently at the School, an honor and a pleasure.

UMPQUA RIVER: a site-specific sculpture

"Umpqua River" will be permanently sited at Oregon Coast School of Art. I am honored and delighted and work is currently in progress, with the installation planned for the end of April. This is both an honor and a responsibility, involving  timing the construction, finishing and firing and placement.


   The Tree Crowns gave me a chance

to develop the concept for a site-specific sculpture. I decided to make a landscape figure about the Umpqua River. Instead of a specific tree, the seated figure’s head has a stand of trees as if seen from a distance. The surface is a blend of blue, green, black and white applied in layers.

See images below to follow the stages of the sculpting process. The piece is currently being fired in the kiln.

UMPQUA RIVER, work in progress

Other works created during the residency

RHODODENDRON, work in progress

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