Renata Schwebel (1961)

7-22, wood, 81" X 36" X 11", 1985
Double C, stainless steel, 16" X 19", 1976
Kantu, aluminum, 156" X 160" X 91", 2001
Model for Ground Piece, 10 ½" X 25" X 7 ½", 1999
Sunscreen, aluminum, 74" X 54" X 3", 1994
Variation on Familiar Themes, IV, 6" X 5" X 2 ½", 1995

I started my graduate work at Columbia in the fall of 1954, but, taking time out for marriage and having three children, I did not receive my Master of Fine Arts degree until 1961. (I suspect that I may have contributed to the ruling that candidates for a Master's degree were, as of 1961, only permitted three years to complete the task.) My professor was Oronzio Maldarelli, addressed by most of the class as Maestro. Though at first the sculpture department had reasonable space, this was taken over, to the best of my memory, for the construction of a new building for the Law School, with sculpture then relegated to the basement of an apartment building on Morningside Heights.

One of my courses outside of the sculpture department was Anatomy for Artists. The professor of that course turned over the whole hour of the last class before Thanksgiving to teaching the finer points of the anatomy and the carving of a turkey. A most useful bit of instruction, which I appreciate every year. In an excess of zeal in the field of anatomy, another graduate student and I snuck in among the cadavers in a building of the Columbia med school, hoping to audit that anatomy class. We were quickly ordered out, but, though we pretended to each other to regret the expulsion, the sights and smells in those rooms made them easy to leave.

I tend to work in cycles, using metal, wood, wax, plaster or clay, but always return to welded metals (either stainless steel or aluminum). Most of my sculpture is in the hard-edge, non-objective mode, but, every so often, the wish for humor evokes abstracted figurative work. With the exception of bronze casting and, now that I'm getting older, really large pieces, I prefer to do all the construction myself. I find that the handling of materials and tools is as much a part of the joy of creating sculpture as the originating of ideas.