artist rebecca kay

Rebecca Kay

My medium is Glass-fiber reinforced concrete castings of plants as well as Birch and Aspen bark taken from fallen trees off the forest floor in an effort to capture the texture and feeling experienced outdoors. I love to experience nature through both sight and touch and my biophilic castings allow for beautiful replications of nature itself. They capture the fragility of nature’s design while creating the unexpected, by using an urban material to convey nature's serene beauty. This process marries my love of nature and my need to create. It's exciting to learn that these castings offer additional significant meaning and goodwill to others when incorporated into their living spaces, whether they complement their indoor or outdoor décor.

Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete is my medium. It’s not your regular sidewalk concrete.

Textures have always had allure with me - whether it’s tactile or visual. As a young child, all the way through college, I found creating with my hands most rewarding. I’ve worked with a wide array of mediums. Starting with hand building in clay, creating mostly decorative sculptures. I branched out into jewelry-making: soldering, forming, lost wax casting, and various bead work; painting with acrylic and oil; printmaking using acid with wax resist on copper plates. I seem to always be drawn back to three-dimensional, hand-built work.

artist rebecca kay

What was your first exposure to concrete as an artform?

I had the good fortune to attend two separate workshops in California with CHENG Concrete Exchange. There I learned to work with decorative glass fiber-reinforced concrete, and how to make molds and create concrete countertops.

What happened next?

After being exposed to Concrete Countertops, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I might get involved, I just fell in love with the texture. So, I created several countertops for friends and my family. Through further workshop training I began to explore the possibilities creating my own molds of things I like.

What is the essential feature in your artwork?

Nature. Everything I do is inspired by the outside world. For me, often skyscapes can provide a hypnotic fascination through visual textures. The various levels of cloud structures and intensity of color value gets my heart beating. To walk into or even drive past the North Woods my brain automatically goes into a composition mode, picking up the various textures of trees and flora; the dappling of light provides a depth that is often hard for me to explain. I take hundreds of picture images of both skyscapes and the forests of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.

How did you develop your current medium?

My brother heads up a Sustainability program for a local College. He’s involved in a variety of research for the college. From a recent seminar at the time, he had attended and learned about Biophilic Design. He asked if I realized that I was creating ‘Biophilic Design’? I had never heard of it. He referenced an article written by Bright Green Tarpin, “14 Patterns of Biophilic Design”. Biophilic Design (in my case) Taking design found in Nature, replicating those designs and bringing them into one's living space, creates a positive well-being. This was exciting to me because it validated an additional purpose for the work I’m currently creating.

You have a variety of sizes of tree bark molds/casts, including some very large pieces.

After I learned more about concrete design, I started to look to what I loved and I could incorporate natural elements into my work. My sister-in-law owns a house on Washington Island, in Door County, Wisconsin. The land is filled with birch and poplar forests and as I walked I discovered large sections that had been shed from the trees. So I asked if I could take some and brought the bark back to my studio in Illinois. From there, I experimented and liked what I was able to do – bring the pieces to life, with all of their shapes and ridges, rough and smooth surfaces. Each time I went I found new pieces and was intrigued to try something really big. The largest casting I have made from a birch tree is……it now hangs above an outdoor fireplace in downtown Chicago.

How did hostas find a place in your work?

Over the years when I haven’t been able to create my art, I have turned to my garden. My grandmother was a gardener. She had a beautiful, serene garden in Northern Minnesota. Shielded by the tall evergreens and birch trees, she carved out a spot filled with many varieties of shade-loving plants, various types of hosta primarily. My mother too filled her garden with a large variety of hosta. Some were shade-loving and other varieties prospered in the sun. Originally my garden had an assortment of flowers and plants that seemed to prefer the sun. As the trees have grown over the years I too have a variety of hostas, many of the varieties are from my mom’s garden and even a few from my grandmother’s. My garden provides a place of solace. I love my hostas in particular because of their range in texture, shape, color, and size.

What is your “art’s purpose”?

In essence, this work fills my Soul Cup and creates additional value for the patrons of my work.