The highs and lows of dumpster diving are all too familiar to Northern California artist Ann Weber. Whenever she runs out of her medium of choice — cardboard — Weber hunts through hulking metal trash receptacles for more. Pieces with clear packing tape or panels faded by sun make Weber’s eyes light up. “It gives a nicer bit of variety in the texture of the piece,” she explains.
Weber’s lightweight, often large-scale pieces are a significant departure from the uniform bowls and plates she once made and sold through her own fine porcelain business in New York City. After years of working with clay, Weber became frustrated with heavy materials and the seemingly endless hours she spent churning out utilitarian pieces at her potter’s wheel. Weber then discovered cardboard, an ordinary medium that presented limitless challenges and possibilities. She still creates objects inspired by forms that look as if they could have come off a potter’s wheel, but her newfound medium allows her the freedom to work on a monumental scale.
Spark captures the process Weber uses to transform abandoned cardboard into voluminous, often towering, sculptures characterized by their rounded, organic shapes. The way Weber uses cardboard in her art differs from piece to piece. She can cut the cardboard into strips and weave it into shapes or wrap sections of cardboard in a circular fashion similar to the coil method used in creating ceramic pots. She then uses polyurethane to bind the pieces together into shapes.
Weber was one of 24 California artists chosen to contribute art to a new five-building government complex in the state Capitol. To create this permanent installation, Weber faced a challenge. She had to create her sculpture using materials more durable than cardboard. With the help of the Manuel Palos studio in San Francisco, Weber was able to transform her original cardboard forms into lasting fiberglass reproductions. Now on display in Sacramento, the “Enough, Not Enough” project resembles a large basket overflowing with translucent forms and shapes.
“I wanted these forms to represent abundance,” Weber explains. “But also since the sculpture is precariously balanced, I wanted to talk about abundance or the lack of it, how some people have it and some people don’t.”
Ann Weber received a BA from Purdue University and an MFA from California College of Arts and Crafts, where she studied under Viola Frey. She has had solo exhibits across the country including at the SFMOMA Artist Gallery and Greenwich House Pottery New York City. She has created commission pieces in California and in Washington state (“Slow Life” for the Seattle Arts Commission).