Summertime Serenity

by Eileen Sondak July 27, 2017


newdurga-ma-001-1Summer is the perfect time to bask in the serene lifelike sculptures of Carole Feuerman’s swimmers. That’s what Madison Gallery in downtown La Jolla was thinking when they arranged for a two-month showing of the hyper-realistic sculptor’s notable works.

On display in the entry gallery, Feuerman’s monumental “Durga Ma,” debuted at the 2015 Venice Biennale, sets the tone of the show. That piece is flanked by silkscreen prints of the swimmers splashed with diamond dust and smaller tabletop and wall-hanging sculptures in variances of others that have shown throughout the world.

Feuerman’s work has focused on swimmers for more than 30 years. She was contemplating divorce while she had three young children when she saw a woman emerging from the water.

“I decided I was that woman, I was going to be very strong,” she says.

Her first swimmer was a fragmented wall hanging with water streaming down the face and it sold to Malcolm Forbes along with the rest of the collection in her first solo exhibition those many years ago.

After visiting Madison Gallery, I spoke with Carole Feuerman from her studio in Manhattan. She gave an overview of her work, shared thoughts on the differences between selling art here and abroad, and talked about the new body of work she has just started.

San Diego Jewish Journal: Can you talk about the significance of your sculptures’ eyes being closed?

Carole Feuerman: I think it lends to the piece, it heightens the realism for me because you think that the sculpture is about to open her eyes. Plus, if you’re going to stare at a sculpture and look at it as a viewer, if the eyes are open and looking back at you, to me it’s spooky.

SDJJ: How is your work received abroad?

CF: My work is definitely well received, I’d say better than here. I’m extremely well known in Italy and in China. It’s been great. It’s really helped. In this country, it was very hard to get the sculptures of swimmers, the monumental ones, placed in cities. Most of the cities didn’t see a female or male swimmer as something they could visualize in public. And yet in Europe it was very simple to do that.

SDJJ: Are your pieces cast from models?

CF: Most of them aren’t. Some are sculpted out of clay. Some, there’s various things that are cast like maybe the hands and face. Many of the pieces that I do are more than one model – most are two or three models.

SDJJ: What are you working on now?

CF: Usually I do a body of work and then I work on making an enlargement or a [variation], but right now I’m doing a completely new body of work. My work has messages of strength and serenity, trust, balance, perseverance. So I’m doing a piece that will be a girl with, I think it’s going to have a dove on her shoulder for world peace because that’s an issue that I worry about. And I’m also going to be doing a piece on gay and lesbian themes. I’ve been interviewing models and I’m trying to conceptualize what I want to say with the sculpture.

Before I begin I have to have a message that I’m interested in and then I find the models who act out the story I want to tell.

SDJJ: Anything else?

CF: I have a message for young artists. I have a foundation that supports artists that I feel need to be known. It’s very hard to get in a gallery especially for a young artist because they don’t have a track record of sales. So I have this foundation and if anybody wants to support the foundation they can support the boutique items I have made. It’s something new I just started.

People should be encouraged to work even if they can’t be in a gallery or they get rejected. They should spend part of their time chasing their dreams and not giving up.

Read more about Carole Feuerman and her work at Details on the show in La Jolla, up through mid-September, can be found at


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