At first glance, you might not be sure what to think of sculptor Virginia Folkestad’s work. Is it art mimicking the beauty of nature, or is it an interpretation of human culture? Whatever you decide her installations represent, you’re likely to find something whimsical and impactful in her award-winning artwork. Folkestad creates her highly interpretive sculptures, as well as the materials used to create them, in her studio space located in the Blue Silo Studio in the River North Arts District. Her work can be viewed at the Sandra Phillips Gallery (420 W. 12th Ave., thesandraphillipsgallery.com).
DLM: How long have you been making art?
VF: I sort of made art all my life and sculpture was part of that. In this format, I started mid-’80s.
DLM: Has it always been sculpture, or do you have interests in other mediums?
VF: I started weaving because that seemed interesting to me and I was making three dimensional forms in weaving and then evolved. My major interest is materials. When I found installation art I saw so many possibilities.
DLM: What kind of materials do you use?
VF: I like a mix. I love to forge steel and bit of welding. I like to use materials that sort of contradict each other. I might use steal with thread. I use wire a lot and wax, wood, concrete, paper and aluminum mesh. It is about having the material work for the concept. I don’t know if I really have a favorite. Right now I am making the material and then seeing what it will do. I am really into thermal plastics.
DLM: How long does it usually take you to complete a piece?
VF: A long time. Since I don’t work in a narrow “make-a-piece” sort of way, and it ultimately becomes a larger installation, it becomes many years if I am developing a material. I have been working with my current material for over a year. It is a long process. Sometimes parts of the piece don’t have a place and then all of a sudden it will come together.
DLM: What was your inspiration behind it?
VF: When I first started working, it had a lot to do with the domestic, and it sort of evolved to how we interact with nature. It is hard to put a firm definition to it. I mix industrial materials and I try to get close to nature with them. I think you feel it when you are around my work. … I don’t give myself permission to replicate nature, but there is an essence (of nature) that comes through the work.