An Inside Look into Deborah Rael-Buckley's Sculpture

By Rachel Mays

Down a long winding Taos dirt road we approached Deborah's studio.We could see her getting coffee and breakfast treats ready for us through her huge studio windows off in the distance, assuring us we were on the right path. Deborah opened her door with opened arms to the Sorrel Sky Gallery staff. Her studio was dazzled with her sculptures and wall hangings, as if entering her very own gallery.

[caption id="attachment_596" align="aligncenter" width="384"] Deborah showing her latest work-in-progress.[/caption]

Deborah started sculpting while living in Brussels, Belgium just ten years ago. When asking why she moved to Taos she replied "My family is in Albuquerque so my husband and I looked at the map and said TAOS!!'s close... but not too close," Deborah giggled.

"It's important to pick a place and just move before you change your mind."  Deborah is full of character - genuine with every word.

Listening to her describe her artistic process was inspiring. She begins by making coils of water based clay and spiraling them up from the floor to establish her bust-like figure. She then smoothes out the sides to create her "blank canvas surface." She makes her shapes in two parts- typically the bottom dress form and then the top bust- in order to fit them into her kiln.

[caption id="attachment_592" align="aligncenter" width="332"] "Corn Raven's View" by Deborah Rael Buckley[/caption]

"Most people think my art is about the female figure but it's really to represent a figure that people can relate too...the chair figure being a symbol of storytelling." As she carves into the form, she cuts out the negative space, but replaces it during the drying process. If she fired her clay with the pieces cut out, the clay would expand and cause the piece to break. Deborah finishes the piece by applying a series of stains and washes.

Her work reflects her memory - the past and the future coming together. She starts this process by adding different clay elements to each piece by creating molds of real-life things. One in particular she showed us was aspen branches that she literally pushed into blocks of clay. She then fires the mold and is ready to fill the aspen impression with clay that can then be removed and applied to the clay figure.

[caption id="attachment_593" align="aligncenter" width="316"] "Cosecha Amarga (Bitter Harvest)" by Deborah Rael Buckley[/caption]

Deborah showed us other samples of molds where she wrote, in Hebrew, backwards into the clay. This way when she pushes clay into the mold to create raised text, it can be applied legibly. Sometimes Deborah is inspired by a phrase or saying - other times she adds writing to her work as an afterthought. Every inch of her creations are symbolic, mostly about transitional periods in her life which is why there are often ladders and butterflies present.

Deborah's art is a story, an indisputable reflection of life and the places it takes you. Walking throughout her garden and seeing her craft carefully scattered throughout her yard was a ticket to the interior of this talented artist. She is truly a master sculptor and producing 8-10 sculptures a year, we can't wait to see what she creates next!

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