[Featured Image: Historia Testis Temporum: Pinky, by Meredith Bergmann, 2010, commissioned by the Brooklyn Historical Society, resin, 48 inches by 48 inches by 18 inches.]

By Christine Lin

NEW YORK—Walking along an avenue or through a city park, one is likely to encounter sculptures. They are permanent or temporary, historical or avant-garde. They are so ubiquitous that as city dwellers, we hardly pause to consider them. But what makes public art relevant? What makes it responsible to the public? Does it need to be?

For Passaic, New Jersey-born sculptor Meredith Bergmann, these questions overarch her daily work. Bergmann is responsible for many public artworks seen around the country, such as the Boston Women’s Memorial; the Marian Anderson statue for Converse College in Spartanburg, S.C.; and Alma Mater for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind.

Bergmann’s work is guided by a sense of deliberateness and civil-mindedness that is not often seen in artists working today. “Bergmann has made goodness more engaging than badness usually is,” writes Donald Kuspit in an essay published in American Arts Quarterly. Perhaps the reason for this observation is that Bergman’s work is centered on two qualities: beauty, and irony.

“Beauty is fundamentally organizing,” she said. “It is not merely inspiring, arousing, and thrilling, but it gives people the feeling that the cosmos makes sense. And that’s a necessary feeling.”

But beauty is not enough for Bergmann. “Something that is merely beautiful is not art enough for me. It needs layers of meaning that unfold over time. It is not enough to merely assert something.” So irony is necessary too.

“Irony has the opposite effect of beauty,” she said. “It’s like humor; it has a subversive element. It’s disorganizing in a positive way. The combination of beauty and irony, for me, means art that is stimulating, provoking, and confronts assumptions, but at the same time affirms in a charged way.” …

Click here to read the rest of the article at The Epoch Times.


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