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Portraits in brass.

Drawing a portrait with a line made of brass wire in three-dimensional space can provide a rich and warm quality to an image. Miriam Kley, a visiting artist from the University of Oregon, invited her students to take on the challenge of drawing portraits in wire.

Miriam Kley, a sculptor and designer from New York, asked her Three-Dimensional Graphic Design students to select a well-known person and make a portrait out of brass wire. The first technique used was to make a line drawing of the person on paper the actual size of the final drawing. Tape was used to hold the wire in place on the paper as the sculpture developed. The brass wire is soft enough to allow considerable flexibility in following a line drawing. When the portrait was completed in wire, it was removed from the drawing and pushed and pulled to give it a more three-dimensional quality. Various colored backgrounds were considered for the presentation and photograph of the portraits. Students were asked to try to use the shadow cast by the wire on the background as part of the design. This technique combines two-dimensional drawing with three-dimensional sculptural qualities. These portraits could then be used as graphics for illustrations on books, magazines or album covers.

Drawing with wire was made popular by the well-known American artist Alexander Calder who fashioned animals, people, buildings and landscapes by bending this simple material. His famous Circus made up of a whole world of wire figures has been on permanent display at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. His work with wire led to mobile sculptures and large scale stabile sculptures.

Miriam Kley has worked in sculpture and graphic design in Chicago and New York. She has applied her sculpture and design knowledge to a number of commercial design projects. Her own brass portrait of Stravinsky has been featured on a record cover, and her portrait of oil baron hess was used on the cover of Business Week. She has worked with unusual materials and created drawings with fruit and vegetables as well as hair. She currently teaches sculpture and design in the Fine and Applied Arts Department at the University of Oregon.
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Title Annotation:brass wire drawings
Author:O'Connell, Kenneth
Publication:School Arts
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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