heARTbeat: Derek Weisberg Uses Clay to Sculpt Emotions

Column“With clay there is no separation between the artist and the material.” -Derek Weisberg

Derek Weisberg is a sculptor who uses clay to create works of art that are emotional and psychological self-portraits. When his mother passed away, Weisberg began to include themes of death, afterlife, spirituality and the metaphysical into his work.

He says:

In traditional Jewish thought, the voyage of the soul is dependent upon the actions of the ones who are living.

It would seem his actions explore experiences which cannot be easily articulated, but are universally felt. His stylization of the figure brings aspects of the human condition to his viewers, utilizing symbols like tattoos and pop culture in his version of canopic jars.

The idea iteself comes from ancient Egyptian burial practices and beliefs about the afterlife. Weisberg takes this ancient ritual and brings it into the present by replacing the gods with portraits of rappers who have passed away. The series deals with themes of life, death, and the afterlife. It is also about a culture he has been involved in his whole life.

Weisberg says:

Simultaneously igniting contemplation, reflection and a lasting relationship with the work, I attempt to express basic human qualities, which are universal and timeless.

Weisberg’s searching for truth through our universal morality may sting with the discomfort of pain and melancholy, yet at the same time, his renderings bring other mediums to the clay.

He explains:

To experience death is to experience the most unique situation in life; it is simultaneously completely familiar and alien, definitive and confusing, guaranteed and mysterious. This work is a combination of all those things and has been a way to help me navigate through and reconcile with the loss of my mother.

 Inspiration from Derek Weisberg’s Studio

Eco, trends, art, creativity and how they tumble through social media to shape culture fascinate EcoSalon columnist Dominique Pacheco. Her trends blog, mixingreality, speaks to these topics daily, and here at EcoSalon, she takes a weekly look at the intersection of eco and art. We call it heARTbeat.

Dominique Pacheco

Dominique Pacheco is the author of EcoSalon's weekly heARTbeat column.