Pacific Art League

A passion for art and community since 1921

Poetry Reading and Artist Q&A with Nora Sarkissian

Bay Area sculptor and poet, Nora Sarkissian
During the opening reception, visitors enjoyed a special program with one of our exhibiting artists. We were pleased to exhibit two works by the Bay Area-based sculptor, Nora Sarkissian. When she delivered her pieces for exhibition, she brought them with two original poems, one to accompany each of her two sculptures on view. PAL Gallery Manager Stephanie Amon invited her to give a public reading and short Q&A.

Eurydice in Search of Love
(YEAR) by Nora Sarkissian
Ceramic, Clay with layered glazes, $450
“Eurydice in Search of Love”
by Nora Sarkissian
January 2016, reproduced with permission
Eurydice in search of love, that she was.
It turned on her, before she knew it.
Down the hole, she did roll,
In search for her soul,
Oh love
—What can you do,
So simple, sweet and unsuspecting,
Can turn into Wisdom too,
Turns into pomegranates, dropping from the heavens,
Turns into anguish,
Turns into longing,
Turns into lavish quests for hostages,
As was the case with Eurydice, searching for love.
Taking Care
(YEAR) by Nora Sarkissian
lay with layered glazes, $225
“Taking Care”
by Nora Sarkissian
January 2016, reproduced with permission
Do you dare to take care...
Of yourself...
How to, when to, love to...
Something we may not have learned for one reason or another. It doesn’t matter, now.
We are here and so why not take care of yourself. In the best way you know how.
Perhaps, not through indulgences and material gratifications, but through self-
awareness and consciousness, empathy and compassion...
In the best way you know how to.
How to, when to, love to.
All my love to you...
Stephanie Amon:
Nora Sarkissian has been a studio sculptor and instructor since
1990. She holds an MFA from San Jose State University, and BFAs from The Naropa
Institute in Boulder, CO and from Dartmouth. She was a potter’s apprentice in
Wuppertal Germany for one year, and she attended Chrysalis Acting School in London,
England. She has studied and worked with Coeleen Kiebert, an art therapist/teacher/
sculptor. Nora teaches Creative Clay to children and adults in Santa Cruz and in the
Bay Area, and currently exhibits
her work at The San Francisco Womens Gallery
Now, Nora is an artist with many passions, and “Eurydice in Search of Love” references
mythology. In Greek myth, Eurydice is a daughter of Apollo and wife of Orpheus. In the
myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, she dies of a snake bite on their wedding day, and
Orpheus sojourns to the underworld only to cast her to stone with his fear, love, and
mistrust. How did you enter into the world of this mythological figure in your sculpture?
Nora Sarkissian:
I began making boats, stemming from a New England vacation. I put
figures into the boats, figures with animal companions.
I had seen the play
, by Sarah Ruhl, not once, but twice.
I began to call the boats, “Barges to the Underworld.” I began to put the two together,
the barges and the figures with their animal companions. Each one became different,
telling its own story.
At the first play of
I went to, I noticed people crying. I began to think this is a
universal theme. The theme of having a loved one on the other side and not being able
to communicate any longer to them, especially one’s feelings toward them, or of feeling
lost inside oneself or in another realm. In Eurydice’s case, she was unable to return to
her life and her wedding. I became interested in a feeling of entrapment.
Here we have a Greek tragedy of lost love, depicting the irony of love being so complex.
We never see the whole picture to a relationship, it seems, as we may assume certain
things about the other. This is one theme that seemed to come up in the play, along with
many others.
I also wanted to ask about your modeling, because your style is very distinctive.
Nora’s profile at the San Francisco Women’s Gallery reads, in part:
“Her materials consist of clay and a variety of stains and glazes. Found objects may be
used. She layers and fires the pieces according to a specific process of
experimentation to achieve the effect she desires. The pieces are at times collage-like,
as there are various components woven together, much like our lives, segments brought
together in order to create a narrative.”
I loved that phrasing, “a specific process of experimentation”! For people who are
seeing your work for the first time tonight, what would you say about that process, about
how you work with the clay and the glazes, how these three-dimensional compositions
came together?
I like to allow it to be a process, allowing imagery to come together... Images
surface to my mind’s eye. Or I might make a collage, being drawn to certain images. I
allow one thing to unfold after the other. It seems to be a succession of images, feelings
and symbolisms, mythology and nature coming together. It may convey a story for the
viewer. It may also be inspired by imagery when traveling and in the case of
, a
play, or another piece of writing.
The images come together to create a feeling and a narrative may emerge. I leave that
up to the viewer.

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