How did you get into making art?
This is a difficult question. I have always relied on art making, no matter the form, as a mode of expression and communication — art was the only thing that made sense. There is something in the use of visual expression that allowed me to connect with those around me in a way that wasn’t otherwise possible.
What are you currently working on?
Currently I am working on my thesis sculptures for the graduate show at Cranbrook Academy of Art. I am exploring the human figure within architectural confines. I play with interdisciplinary techniques, coupling various mediums (such as rebar) with the ceramic figure in hopes of opening new forms of expression and dialogues. I focus on the figure, trying to investigate what happens when other materials are integrated with clay, what happens when architecture and the figure respond to one another, and how the figure is read when only presented with finite information.
What inspired you to get started on this body of work?
I’m interested in how our bodies exhibit our memories, where we hold our histories and the moments in our lives that have shaped us. How do they express themselves and how do others see them through our bodies? Rather than sculpting others I focus on how my own experiences have altered my body. Reading the book “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk opened my eyes to the common threads in how the body expresses our personal histories.
I’m interested in how our bodies exhibit our memories
Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?
I work on one project at a time. I tend to focus in on one aspect of something and am unable to work on anything else until it’s done. I know a lot of artists, and friends of mine, who can work on multiple things at once, but I’ve never been able to do that. Once I get started, it’s almost like a feverish rush to find out how it will be completed. I start with a general idea and let myself flow organically from it as I work.
What’s a typical day like in your studio?
There is definitely an ebb and flow to my studio practice. It starts slowly, usually taking a few hours to sketch ideas, to hone in on what I want to make. When I finally begin working on the sculpture itself, it becomes more frenzied. I can spend anywhere from 8-14 hours a day working; it’s obsessive to some degree. Once I finish, there is a lull; I usually spend at least a week reflecting on the piece investigating what works and what’s not working before starting the process all over again.
Who are your favorite artists?
I feel like this list changes quite frequently, but currently, artists that have been most influential to my practice are Rachel Whiteread, Doris Salcedo, Sarah Lucas, Cristina Cordova, Heidi Bucher, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt, and Christian Boltanski.
Where do you go to discover new artists?
A combination of places. At the moment, I work in a library so I’m lucky enough to be able to peruse the shelves while I work. However, pre-Covid, I would find a lot of new work by visiting galleries or having studio visits with other artists. In these conversations we would often discuss their influences which is always beneficial for continuous exploration. Finding artists that work in a different medium than I do is inspirational to me.
Rebecca Frantz is an artist based in Detroit who was recently shortlisted for The Hopper Prize. To learn more about the artist: