Artist Estella Fransbergen signs books at C. Anthony Gallery in Beaver Creek this weekend | VailDaily.com

Artist Estella Fransbergen signs books at C. Anthony Gallery in Beaver Creek this weekend

By Kimberly Nicoletti
Special to the Daily

Editor’s note: This story appears as a paid feature in Art magazine.

Estella Fransbergen’s ethereal sculptures bring viewers back to nature, back to gut feelings and back to one’s heart.

She begins her celebration of the human form by sculpting a torso, using the coil building technique, from clay.

“The torso, to me, is the gut feeling, the heart, the essence and core for everything,” Fransbergen said. “I don’t put arms or heads on them — especially the head, because that is like monkey chatter. … The brain confuses us because we try to overanalyze instead of just being quiet and listening to ourselves. We always have the answer.”

Once she sculpts a torso, she builds a fire, stokes it for three to four hours and employs the primitive firing techniques of Raku — and smoldering sawdust — to allow tones of brown, black and white to emerge.

“The smoke brings me back to my South African roots,” she said.

Growing up in South Africa, studying in the Netherlands and now living in Florida has deepened her connection to nature, as well as cultural diversity.

“My sculptures reflect my total life experience,” she said.

Since Raku brings its own surprises, Fransbergen has learned to let go of control and expectations and allow the torso to reveal her own personality.

“She goes through a lot — from the fire to the cold,” Fransbergen said. “Each torso comes from the fire with a uniqueness all its own.”

From there, Fransbergen adorns the torso with such elements as semi-precious and rare stones, wire, Swarovski crystals, feathers, crocheted skirts and metal.

“Every torso speaks to me, whether its jewels or wire twigs. Whatever feels right at the time. I never know ahead of time,” she said.

The gems she works with — from turquoise, pearl, amber or rose quartz to pearls, aquamarine and more — change, as well.

“The stones have so much energy,” she said. “It’s beyond what we know. Some years, I’m into pearls, and now I’m into opals, because my energy changes and each stone has a different feel.”

Each torso seems to float, or even dance, upon an array of airy “bases,” made of keys, a large wire ball or gems suspended by wire.

“The jewels are so feminine; it brings the little girl out in me — that really feminine, sparkly (aspect),” she said. “It (says) ‘it’s okay to be a girl’ … and it also shows inner strength.”

She doesn’t name her pieces because everyone finds different meanings and emotions as they view a particular sculpture.

“I’m just a creator. I’m not here to dictate,” she said. “I would like whoever acquires the piece to take total ownership and name her, so it becomes theirs.”

Entering into this kind of dialogue with Fransbergen’s pieces allows people to return back to nature — a theme Fransbergen feels passionate about — and to deepen their relationship with their essence.

“My work is the expression of the human form,” she said, “and the embodiment of beauty entwined with the powers of nature.”

Fransbergen work will be up at C. Anthony Gallery in Beaver Creek, and the artist will be at the gallery from 4-8 p.m. for a book signing on Feb. 14 and 15. For more information, visit canthony.gallery.