Robin and John Gumaelius
John and Robin work together on all their pieces trading roles throughout the process. Though they have many common skills, they also have developed areas of expertise in their shared art. John does much of the metal work on the sculptures, and Robin names them.
Both artists both build with clay. John prefers pinch building and usually builds the bird forms. Robin prefers a combination of slab and pinching. She also typically does the figurative and animal forms.
When the clay forms are leather hard, we paint them a solid navy blue or red underglaze and then Robin does a quick brush sketch in black before painting the colors. Then, using a stylus, she scrapes through layers of paint or all the way back through to the white clay. This activity is often done in the quiet of the night after their children have been put to bed. Some images come from a secret storage place inside. Random things sidle up to each other and come out stitched together, sometimes seeming like new discoveries and sometimes seeming like old truth newly remembered. Some images come from postcards or books or stories she has in her studio. Other times she copies her children’s drawings.
The artists typically do not have a specific story in mind when they begin a piece. The story unfolds itself as they work together. Certain themes seem to come back again and again.
Robin’s Artist Statement
John says the process for making crow’s feet isn’t interesting or important, but he describes it in detail when I ask. He lets slip the nuances of foot building as he walks away and says, “It’s all considered. It’s all important to the final outcome.”
He brings the birds inside one by one as he finishes welding their feet. They congregate on the mantle chattering and preening. I glance up from the stories I’m reading to my girls and think that I wouldn’t mind if the birds stayed. Maybe it’s because some secret part of us carves stories into the birds, so, when I peer up at them, I am surprised.
John’s Artist Statement
I am driven to make objects I find beautiful. Instead of thinking my art into existence, I feel it into existence. Like breathing, it happens on its own until I think about it. Then it changes and something is lost.