Sunday, July 30, 2017

SO EXCITED! A seated Norma.

I appreciate all of the photographs that the family has sent
of this lovely woman. I have always said, many artists can
create a likeness, but I am striving for the essence
of Norma as well. 

I'm so excited. For weeks Norma's sculpted upper torso and head have been separate from the rest of her body. There are a couple reasons for this. The face takes some time and Norma's hair took forever. ( I'm still seeing her hair when I close my eyes. ) I'm still not done with the back of it.  However, some of the hair will change once we get her torso together and her guitar.  At times we have even taken Norma off of her pedestal and put her down flat. There is a great deal of smoothing that goes into the sculpting process. It is a tag team. I'll sculpt and then an intern comes in and smooths.

I had other young interns helping in a creative process of creating some of Norma's Jewelry. We have quite a bit of her jewelry that she wore and some we can use in the sculpture. We can make a mold of it and then cast it in bronze with her. Other pieces of jewelry are to delicate to use. So we used her jewelry as inspiration and recreated it.  I'm sure the young interns will relish their part of being in the creative process. I love creating learning experiences through my art. I don't know Norma, but I sense she would appreciate that.

If you remember back a few posts ago, a family member gave us a guitar for us to use in the project.  We have to modify the guitar quite a bit.  I'm surprised how hard it was emotionally for me to do that to a guitar. I play the guitar and can't imagine destroying one on purpose. But it is for a good cause and Norma will play it forever more.  ( I will remember that when I have to drill holes into it to secure it to Norma's body armature.)

Recreating a guitar for Norma.
The first thing we did was to paint the guitar the same color as the clay that we used on Norma. I find this helps both myself and the client. It is less of a visual distraction while creating and when approving the sculpture. Of course, the few pieces of jewelry that we did use that were Norma's we did not paint. It is a distraction to me, but the idea that it is "her" jewelry outweighs that distraction. The energy that jewelry adds to the piece is incredible. I'm sure you will recognize it when you see the sculpture

Back to the guitar.
We also have to be careful about the hole in the guitar.  You can't really have deep holes in bronze as it is a wonderful place for bugs to nest.  So, we need a hole without a hole.  This is less of a challenge than the other challenge- STRINGS.  If you look at most bronze sculptures of musicians you will find there are no strings on the instruments. WHAT?  here are artists coming from an artist point of view instead of a musicians point of view.  Believe it or not strings are a challenge.  They are thin and can be broken off, if created like a typical string. They have undercuts. Undercuts are areas that go in and around, which is difficult to cast.  Could you put wire on the sculpture after it is cast? Yes, but lets guess how long that would last before a vandal came and clipped them off.  So my goal is to create a guitar like it has strings, but they are part of the guitar body, no undercuts, and solid.  Wish me luck, send me positive guitar string energy. It is a challenge, but I'm up for it.

Ernie and David Zenteno with David's
grandchildren, Isabella and Noah Zapata
An intern is helping with the guitar while I work on Norma and we are making huge progress. The color or patina that will be put on the final sculpture when it is in metal will also help with us having a hole where there is no hole and showing strings.

For now the guitar sits aside, waiting for me to put the rest of Norma's body on her. I have two days alone in the studio! I love alone time in the studio. Norma and I bond and make such progress. By Tuesday  or Wed I hope to have the torso of Norma roughed in and will be able to put her guitar in her lap. Hand, arms and fingers... that is another story.   But she is coming along and I am SO EXCITED about getting to work for the next couple of days.


We are moving right along. I would expect that by the time of the Gala, the sculpture will be approved. I hope that we can reveal pictures of it at the Gala, if the family would like. We have our final push to get raise the money for casting. (Please help by spreading the word and donating now. There is a link to pay pal on the main page for the project. Or contact the family and send a check. )  I'm so excited. Sorry, I won't show pictures of the final piece until the family approves it, but I will show sectional progress.  Wish you could feel the bubbling I feel and the creative energy in the studio right now. Oh, Norma I can't wait for you to be here serenading me regularly in the corner of my studio.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The studio is filled with Norma

The studio is filled with Norma. 
The studio is filled with Norma. I have reference photos on the wall, and a blown up copy for inspiration. There are piles of Norma pictures everywhere.  I'm also referring to online photographs of her provided by the family and ones I can find on the internet. If you have photographs, especially those of an older Norma, please sent them.  So with all of my online reference my computer is perpetually covered with clay.  I must remember to clean the bottom off of it before going to bed, as I usually write in the early or late hours and this dark clay smudged on sheets, well you can only imagine what that looks like.

Lots to do on Norma's hands. We are just roughing them in. 
I worked hard on getting Norma's face. Sorry no views of that.  I'm saving that for the family. I realized I couldn't really get her face until I had her hair, and boy did Norma have a lot of that hair. An intern spent the entire day just smoothing hair that it took me 4 days to add. Multiply that by about 5 more areas and you have Norma's hair.

Even without all of her hair, I'm real close to capturing her essence and I'm delighted. Meanwhile there are body parts everywhere.  Hands with Norma's jewelry are in one place, her sculpted boots in another and other appendages await to be attached. Norma is in pieces and I can't wait to start to put her together.

It is pretty much Norma central, but at this rate we will have her complete before the September gathering.  Then it is just a matter of having the funds to cast her. I can't wait to see her and Kippy in the park.

Norma's hair. Interns helped to
recreate some jewelry that we will
use on the sculpture. 
Oh, Kippy. He sits on the other side of the room staring with vacant eyes, wondering when it will be his turn again.  My granddaughter came to my studio, found a stick and walked around the yard with it for the entire day. We have given it to Kippy. It will be what he is waiting for Norma to toss.

 Onward to Norma. Need more of her music. Did the band have a CD?  It would be great to have it here in the studio as we work. The you tube songs are not very good. Some are, but then how many times can you listen to the same few songs? Love listening to her as we sculpt though.

Don't forget to send in your donations so we can get Norma cast.  More photos to come as we have time. Now I better stop as the 1/2 moons of clay are exiting my fingernails and are all over the computer.



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Hide and seek

In all honesty I have been coming into the studio late. I work weekends, I work most days, but I love what I do. If I'm not writing, I'm sculpting, but this weekend I took time for family and I did something I have not done in a very long time. I made a pillow.

Anyway...In the afternoon evenings I'm coming in to the studio. I have a few days alone with Norma, no interns, nothing going on and I'm so excited. The dog Kippy sits on the other side of the room whimpering for me to get back to him. Norma's boots are roughed in and I swear they are also tapping, waiting to be put on a body. Norma's hands are in another part of the studio.  But I keep coming back to Norma's face.

It is a game of hide and seek. It is funny. I have had this hide and seek feeling mostly with kids who have died of accidents. I would not expect to have it with Norma. But for the last week, I sculpt in the evening, feel like I am getting closer, and then walk away. The next day I come back and I can see it differently.  Each day I make a mess, talk to Norma and look and hundreds of photographs. Each night I clean the clay from my fingers, load up my computer, clean the clay off the bottom of it before bringing it into bed and then go to bed hoping she will greet me in the morning.

I was talking to my sister yesterday and told her about a portrait that I did of a doctor. I felt so good about it all night long. I was having a grand time with it and felt confident. I closed up shop and in the morning when I came in, set my things down on the counter and turned around I found I had an entirely different man in my studio. What I had labored over for so long was my own deceased father.  I spoke right out loud, "What on earth are you doing here dad and where is the doctor?"

So, though Norma is taking stage in the evening, I want to be sure she is there in the morning.


Saturday, July 1, 2017

Norma's party and making friends.

Being introduced on stage. I wish I would have asked everyone
to send pictures and stories. 
I was delighted to attend Norma's Birthday Party at Sambuca on Thursday.  I planned on taking Friday off, away from my constant search for Norma.  You see, I have body parts ready to be put together, but until I can capture the essence of Norma in her portrait bust, I can't really put everything else together.

There is an old movie called Hook. In one part of the movie there is a magical moment when a little boy is smooshing around the face of Robin Williams trying to find Peter Pan.  At one point he says, "there you are Peter." I have that moment with each of the portraits that I sculpt.

Fnding my subject can be a challenge.  Sometimes, I have to step away from the sculpture. This is extremely hard, especially when I have interns waiting to get to work on parts, but I cant go any further until I find Norma. So stepping away becomes part of the process.  Thursday, when I stepped away I was delighted to be surrounded by the Zenteno family. I actually began to miss them. It is a bit odd, but I'm not sure if it is me missing them or Norma.  I bond so much with my subject it is often hard to tell where they end and I begin, well emotionally.  

It is Saturday night, I have sat with Norma's head in my lap, flipping through images and trying to pull her into the clay. 4 hours later I mushed the clay around and finally said, "Oh, there you are Norma."  Now, I step away until tomorrow, to see how she will talk with me again.  Finding the essence of Norma is a lot different than finishing the sculpture. There is SO much to do. We have actually just begun. But tonight I can sleep a little more at peace knowing that Norma is taking the stage in my studio.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Stepping out

Sculpting Norma's boots.
I love that this sculpture of Norma is starting with her feet.  Whenever I create a sculpture I divide it up into pieces. Feet, hands, head torso- each are first roughed in, then put together and then detailed. I love working with the feet. Feet keep the rhythm they dance in times of celebration and they are raised when the day is done.

For me, right now, the idea of stepping out, moving forward and especially for strong independent women is important.
My personal journey of stepping out is stepping out to hike with other women in my hiking group and stepping out with helping others to learn salsa and bachata at SSQQ dance studio in Houston.

I see Norma as walking towards confidence, no matter what the challenge. I see her walking towards friends, to greet them, embrace them, to care.  Stepping out... shoes are more than just an accessory.
Giving Norma a seat.  

Every piece of a posthumous sculpture is a connection.
For me right now it is the feet, and then I'll move to her head and hands.

Other updates.


A picture of Kippy the dog sits next to the
beginning of a clay torso. 
Along with sculpting of Norma's feet, we have been preparing to begin the other parts of the sculpture.  We need an armature for the placement of Norma which will be her seat. This was  lovingly created by Johnny Rojas for me. We returned to the area on the East End of Houston, once again, to get a look at what was being done.  It is fitting that Johnny would be helping with the armature. I'm not sure all the details, but Johnny recommended me to someone who I think recommended me to the family for this job. Thanks Johnny for bringing your energy into this project.

Whimsy into art.  The clay that we used in each of the projects is reclaimed from previous projects.  Interns have been busy on the sunny days, laying part of the Alice in Wonderland sculpture, and the feet of the mad Hatter, and the torso of a seeing eye dog for the last project of John Turner all outside on plastic.  The sun melts the clay and the interns reclaim the clay for Norma.  I love that the creative energy of the clay is infused and reused.

Another intern pulled together a very rough armature of Kippy- photos to come.

This is the week I being to absorb all things Norma. It is a strange process sculpting deceased loved ones. I really want alone time with Norma. No interns, no distractions— just Norma and I. But first, the grudging work of getting armatures and clay on those armatures.  All part of the process.  More photos to come.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kippy— A rescue, a cause, and a companion.

Thank you Barrio Dogs for coming to my rescue.
The sculpture that I am creating is of Norma sitting and singing, but with the sculpture of Norma there will be a special companion- Kippy. Kippy is a rescue dog that died of cancer. Kippy will be watching Norma Play. Below is a video with Norma singing about Barrio Dogs and another of a performance with Norma.

Today I xeroxed Kippy to size and printed out some images so she could become a part of the studio. I also wanted to see if the size given to me was indeed the true size.  We will start on her armature soon.

Norma began Barrio Dogs  with her sister in law Gloria Medina Zenteno. I asked Gloria to talk about Kippy.
Poor Kippy needed help. 

Kippy is a she, all of Barrio Dogs rescues are special and they wish they all could be included in this project, but Kippy made an impact to many.  She was found living across the street from the school KIPP Intrepid on Lawndale and Telephone Road, hence her name "KIPPY".  Had she been a male they would have named her KIPP...any of the students and teachers felt helpless about what to do for her because she was very skittish and sick.  Barrio Dogs jumped in to save the day. They started feeding her and rescued her...  It took a few months to build trust.  

 
Even the vice principal jumped in on the day of rescue. She stopped traffic as many watched the rescue take place. Barrio dogs rescue team took her right to  Gulfgate Animal Hospital.

There was lots of medication and a wonderful foster named Kim.  Kippy was rehabbed to be the most beautiful girl, she loved all dogs, even cats, children and adults, there were no issues with her behavior, she was such a happy girl.  Kim fostered until her s in New Mexico.   She lived only a couple of years more, maybe less and then died from cancer. Barrio dogs saw a connection between Kippy and Norma.  Gloria Medina Zenteno suggested Kippy for the project and the entire Barrio Dogs board agreed unanimously.
It is a wonder what love can do. 

A sad pup gets help. 
A xerox of Kippy to size, sits in the
corner of the studio for inspiration. 








Sunday, April 30, 2017

Meeting those involved in fundraising.

Some of the fundraising team with Norma's mom in the middle. 
This entire project is full of history. Today I got a chance to meet the incredible gang of people who are working on fundraisers for this project.

We met at Morales Radio Hall. I just learned the Houston history of this building on the east side, It was one of the first Spanish speaking radio stations started in 1950 KLVL-AM.  Here is a link to some of the history of the television station started by Felix Hessbrook Morales.

The Morales family has been inspirational in fundraising for the Norma Zenteno project.

Thanks to everyone on the committee for their hard work. I encourage everyone to share the blog posts and the project on their social networks.  Remember, every bit of money toward this project helps. I think we should have a special preview viewing of the sculpture after approval at my studio for those who give the big donations.  Can't wait to get started sculpting.

Remember you can also donate on the Norma Zenteno Sculpture Project website. 


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Music And "Mine"

Music
Today I had the incredible privilege to hear the Zenteno band play.  What a treat. I arrived out of a business meeting late at Sambuca's after scrambling to park my huge van downtown.  The presence of the band was impressive.  The personas of each of the individuals in the family changed when on stage. You can tell that for them... this was home.

This video is old and shows Norma playing with her dad.

It was an emotional night as one of the musicians Lindy Pollard was leaving Houston and this was his last time playing with the band. If I recall this history correctly,  he has played with a member of the Zenteno family for 40 years.

Zenteno Family at Sambucas- Houston
The warmth from family and friends and the looks on their faces when we began to talk about the sculpture was endearing.  Each person added to the intensity, passion and life of this sculpture through their sharing. I encourage you please share both stories and photographs on the Norma Zenteno sculpture page. These stories help me to bring life to the sculpture.

Time and time again, I have heard people say that they still feel Norma, or have had "Norma" experiences since her passing.  I listen intently as each experience is so very personal, so very touching. I get the feeling that Norma embraced the essence of each person she met. Cherished them and made them feel special.

MUSIC FOR ME.
Many know me as a sculptor. Few people know that when I was in high school I vacillated for a time about whether I should be an artist or a musician.  My  childhood experiences with music were like many. I took piano, because my sister took piano, it was in the house and what you did. Though I have to say that reading music and spending hours plucking out notes to songs that were way harder than I could play, was probably my first inclination that I was self motivated. I also played to sing. I love to sing.

In grade school I took flute, but family life and other distractions made it impossible to focus and so that was not a good experience. It was not until I was in Junior high that I thought I might like to learn guitar. I got a paper route and worked it long enough to get enough money to buy an acoustic guitar and a few lessons.  I still have that guitar. Somehow old musical instruments are like family members. Some friends nearby played and I asked them to teach me some things as well. A guitar suited me. It was different than what my sister played, and was transportable. I could play the Mommas and the Pappas, Melanie and other folk artists.

Also from grade school I loved music classes. When I found out there was actually a place where a group could sing called a chorus I was elated. Even today I will put down the guitar and sing harmony given half the chance.

My graduate school was a liberal arts college. Goddard College in Vermont let you design your own program and since I wanted a program that focused on 3D technology in fine art it was a win. It was a distance low residency program, which meant we had to go to Vermont twice a year, for a week. We lived in the dorm and planned our next six months learning schedule with our advisors.  What I loved most about this is that there were artists, actors, writers, musicians of all sorts.  The college came to being in the 60's so there is a lingering hippie vibe to the college on a farm.  Down the hill is the music building. When I was not preparing my studies I spent my time there. I did not bring my guitar but instead my coffee cup and my dorm key as I would play percussion and sing. I was not the only person improvising as some students played the bottom of drawers. The music room was also the place of a the fire pit. So even if it was snowing and freezing I would alternate between hanging at the fire pit and singing inside with the musicians.  It as at Goddard where I met musicians who were focusing on exotic instruments or things like overtone singing. It was a creative atmosphere.
Other musicians I have sculpted
Me and B. B. King

My other major music influence is my adopted dad Harry Shepherd. This jazz vibaphone artist and I have known each other for years, and I adopted him long time ago as my surrogate dad, he bought me my last guitar.  So, having Harry in my life has introduced me to a lot of Houston music.

 I spent more time playing in church than anywhere. I have been a music leader in a few churches.  I don't play that much anymore. But in honesty I did pick up my guitar the other day to learn True Colors from the movie Trolls, inspired by my granddaughter. I sing mostly to her. She has her own show tunes, and requests them each time I put her to bed.  Music is in my blood and would have been my alternate path had I not been a sculptor/writer. It brings me great joy to participate with other musicians and singers and it is that "high" that I can feel when I think of Norma's performances.

Other musicians I have sculpted.
Bill Monroe of the Blue Grass Boys
When leaving Sambucas that evening I said goodbye to Norma's daughter, Angie. She shared some incredible stories of her mom with me this night, as many others did as well. But Angie also was the recipient of something else that this process holds. Creating a sculpture of a deceased loved one and being a part of the process brings a closeness, a healing, a way to have a celebration and continuing bonds.   Angie  held out her arms and cried "Mia" which if you are not hispanic, I'll translate, it means "mine." We embraced and in doing so I felt Norma hugging us both.  I heard Angie's voice echoing with her mom's as she hugged us and watched on.  Norma is in this project, and I'm so honored to feel her presence and get to know her. She is an example for all of us in how we love and care for others.

The family is trying to raise money for the project. Please share this information and visit the blog to donate.


One of the first musicians I sculpted— Willie Nelson. The IRS
confiscated this sculpture and auctioned it off with the
rest of his art to pay of his IRS debt. 


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sitting- and inspiration.

What a great day. We were trying to find the clouds and dodge the rain. The goal... Have Angie, Norma's daughter pose in some of Norma's clothes. I can then take pictures all around the subject to get the reference that we need.  Now, Angie does not play the guitar, so I did help her with the position of her hands.  I can hardly wait to get started.

Different clothes and trying to find Norma. 

Showing Angie some chords

Taking pictures all around

My saying is... You can never have too much reference. Send
me pictures everyone.  

Getting to know you.

I'm spending time listening to her music and searching through photographs. I found this video online and I am very thankful for those who compiled it.


Remembering Norma Zenteno.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The guitar

Ernie and David Zenteno with David's
grandchildren , Isabella and Noah Zapata
When creating this sculpture there are several ways that I can create the guitar.

  • I could hand sculpt the guitar with clay over foam. 
  • I could 3D scan Norma's guitar and have it reproduced in foam and clay
  • I could get a real guitar and modify it. 

For the budgets sake we have decided to go with the last option.  So, it was put in the hands of the family to find a guitar.  Ernie, Norma's brother and bass guitar player for the family band found the perfect guitar to be a part of this sculpture.  

I'm glad that they were able to do this. I may have to actually anchor the guitar to the sculpture and I needed something that it was o.k. to destroy. Even so, I'm a guitar player and hurting this instrument in any way will cause the musical muse and the artistic muse great dissension. 

The project is moving along. I can't wait for our photo sitting tomorrow with Angie, Norma's daughter.  

Lights, Camera, Action!

Lighting a sculpture is very important. Unfortunately there was nothing in the budget for lighting of Norma so we are trying to work with the lighting that is there.  We have two spots on the wall that we have been vacillating between. So we had a late night rendevous and took some photographs.

Monday, April 24, 2017

It is all about the family and friends and... food.

We all gather at the Brown Foundation on Harrisburg to pick
the perfect spot.  Originally Norma was going to be placed
standing in the gardens beyond this small wall. I suggested
She instead be mounted to the wall and playing her guitar. 

If you read my previous post you will begin to understand that the connections that I have and that are made to those friends and relatives of my subject are crucial to infusing life into the sculpture.

If there is anything that can make this sculpture "sing," pun intended, it is getting to know and hearing the stories of Norma. That is where you as the reader come in.  You know Norma, you have experiences with Norma, share, tell, teach me who she is, and slowly I begin to feel and see Norma. Then I see it happen over and over again, that passion is transferred to the clay and in the end... to the viewer.

Playing her guitar under the street light. I can't wait to get
started. I love the inspiration of the family. 
Here is one thing I learned yesterday- Norma was all about family.  I should have known that. I mean she played music with her family. But yesterday I felt it. And in doing so, it was as if Norma was right there behind my shoulder introducing me to everyone.

Plans were made to go to the proposed site and take some photo reference of Angie, Norma's daughter posing as Norma in Norma's clothes. Somehow that got lost in the translation of the day, and instead the entire family Norma's brothers  Ernie, Bobby and Javier, long with his wife Gloria, Norma's son Miles and his girl friend jackie and Norma's Daughter Angie and her boyfriend Chris all met at the place where the sculpture will one day reside.  Even Norma's mom Elsa Zenteno came.

Instead of being there for a photo sitting to take reference for the sculpture, the family all shared their thoughts about the placement, pose and outfit that Norma should be wearing. There were a lot of ideas shared, and when thinking about it— they were shared with huge smiles and a great deal of excitement that was infectious.  Somehow, I think Norma was probably that way—infectious in her charm, livelihood and presence.  One of the brothers mentioned their playing and said something like there is no longer a ... not sure the term he used, but when he said it a flood of pictures came to my mind. What was missing in this family band —the lead singer, the one that got the attention, that sparked the crowd on, flirted with the music and her brothers to bring a crescendo of intensity and involvement from both audience and musicians.  I never had the opportunity of knowing Norma. Right now I am sorry I never got to see her live in her element, with her family, creating.  I am sure it was something to experience.

We rescheduled the photo sitting for another day.  The family has work to do, in that we we need to see the placement of the sculpture at night. This means that the family will have to go and stage the piece to see what it will look like under the lighting that is already there. They will take some photos and send them to me.  Then, we did what close families do- we went and ate. I was so thrilled to be invited.


From left to right: Angie Hart (Norma's only daughter, first grandbaby),
Sculptor Bridgette Mongeon, 
Chris (Angie's boyfriend),
Ernie Zenteno, Gloria Zenteno, Javier Zenteno, Bobby Zenteno,
  Elsa Zenteno (Mama Z)

Those not shown, but there earlier in the day. Miles Towns Zenteno
(Norma's youngest son, who got the music genes) Jacki Davis (Miles girlfriend)
There is something about sitting down to a meal with the family for which I am creating a piece of art.  Believe it or not, in my long career of creating sculpture, especially posthumous sculpture, I rarely get to do this.  Many people I don't even meet as they live in New England, or Alaska or another state.  I am loving that the Zenteno family is here and so inviting.  I may often appear quiet at the table, yes even after a margaritta, but I'm absorbing everything and thinking.

Norma's mom shares a story of Norma when she was little and how she thought she would run faster than someone who road their bike.  She tied herself to the bike to prove it and came home all torn up. She smiled, the smile of a mom remembering. I looked at Moma Z and felt her love for her daughter, her strength involved in raising such a large family of boys and one girl- Norma- the oldest.  The endearing nature of the entire family toward Norma, and of total strangers that I have been introduced to. Many who meet me and hear about the sculpture project same Norma's name, with that same family sparkle.  This... this family, and friends, and love I can feel and inspires my muse.  How can I possibly infuse it into the clay, it is more than I have felt in any of my posthumous commissions.  OK Norma, I'll need some assistance here.

More to come:

Please contribute and share the news of this project. With your help we can make this happen. For more information about donations please visit the Norma Zenteno Sculpture Page. 



Getting to know Norma

Today was an exciting day as I met with the family of Norma Zenteno. I’ll soon be starting a sculpture of Norma for the family. The sculpture is of a vibrant Norma playing guitar while a dog looks on. The family will be placing this sculpture at the Brown Foundation Plaza on Harrisburg in Houston’s East End. The sculpture honors Norma and the work of Barrio Dogs. 

The family and I sat together and talked about the scheduling details, fundraising and contracts,  then parted, but at the last minute I asked if I could see the place where the family was installing her.

Let me back up a bit, If you don’t know my work, I am known for quite a few things in the fine art field. I often incorporate digital technology in my traditional process as I talk about in my last book, I love sculpting children, For a while there everyone referred to me as “the cat girl” because I created the Prairie View Panther for Prairie View University and the very large Grambling Tiger for Grambling State University. I guess recently people know me for the monumental sculpture of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea party. This ends a 7 year project which will be installed in November and can be seen on both the Facebook page and the website.

In walking this one path of creating posthumous sculpture on my creative journey, I have found that there are some incredible things that happen. It has been a while since I created a life-size sculpture of a deceased loved one. I had almost forgotten about the connections and unusual occurrences that happen when beginning this creative process. It is strange, unusual, wonderful and incredibly inspirational. I am also known for my sculptures of deceased loved one. For many, this may sound like a very macabre thing to do, but I love it. A few years back Texas Country Reporter created a segment on this portion of my art. I love developing a relationship with the deceased; I love helping families and individuals come together around the likeness of a loved one that I create. I love giving recognition to an individual and honoring their life through my art. I have written much about this process of sculpting deceased loved ones, and one day I hope to publish a book about it.

That is what happened today. On the way to the destination for the sculpture, I began to get a “feel” for a part of the sculpture. There is a thing that happens during these types of commissions that I can only describe as a “knowing.” Though it has happened over and over again with countless posthumous commissions, it never ceases to excite me. In the case of Norma, it is like she is walking beside me, causing things to happen or showing me how things should go. She solidifies our connection and is in the details, and slowly I get to know her and develop a relationship with her even though we have never met.  Yes, it sounds strange but, I develop relationships with the deceased.

I’m delighted with what transpired today. I can’t wait for our next meeting when we prepare some photo reference for the project. The family will be a part of this sitting, a loved one is taking her place wearing clothes similar to Norma’s so that I can get a feel for this. I love this. In creating posthumous sculpture, I have found that those sculptures that have the most life are those that have a strong emotional connection brought on by the interaction and sharing by those who knew and loved the subject. Somehow, their energy and love is fused within the clay. It is very exciting. I can’t wait for the up and coming sitting. I’ll share that soon. In the meantime. I have a new friend. She is not on this earth, but I’m having a great time getting to know her, and watching the light in the eyes of her family as we bond.

Feel free to help to infuse this sculpture. Share your stories to help me bond with Norma. These stories, help me to connect to Norma. Your love and memories are transferred to the clay and bring Norma to life. The Zenteno family has set up a website to begin to receive donations for this sculpture. Thank you for being a part of the creative process.