Amy Bright Unfried's sculpture is characterized by classical realism with modern elements, celebrating the variety and beauty of the human form, including women, men and children of all races. She works primarily from life models, with attention to anatomic accuracy and lifelike grace. Many of her pieces express a particular mood or emotion, often reflective or pensive; they convey sincere feeling and, many people remark, spirituality.
She enjoys working on the expressive details of faces, hands, feet and hair. Many of her works contain other details such as flowers, drapery, clothing items and, in the case of seated figures, a variety of chairs. In some pieces, small creatures (such as butterflies, birds, turtles and dragonflies) make appearances.
In addition to her primary body of work involving the human figure in a realist style, Unfried has at several times in her career made a number of more abstract pieces, still employing the figure as subject but in a suggested and abstract way. She has also done a small number of animal sculptures, and for the past several years she has concentrated on several series of sculptures of fanciful small trees containing small animal figures, primarily birds. Since 2011 she has also been exploring the shape of the Moebius strip and creating several series of sculptures incorporating this shape in combination with abstract bird shapes.
The surfaces of her sculptures are not polished smooth by machine tools working on the bronze but retain the marks of hand and tool working on the clay in which the sculpture first takes its shape. Paradoxically, this slight unevenness gives the surface a lifelike quality as light moves flickeringly over it.
Amy Bright Unfried's work is cast in limited editions in bronze at an art foundry. Bronze appeals to the artist on many levels. First is its endurance: bronze has been used for sculpture for thousands of years, and a bronze sculpture is long-lasting, timeless and classic. Unfried's sculpture seeks to capture not so much the anecdotal quality of a moment as what is timeless and eternal in the moment.
Second is bronze's beauty: the variety and subtlety of texture and patina of which bronze is capable is remarkable. Patina, the surface color treatment of a bronze sculpture, derives from a chemical change in the surface of the bronze which is created by the application of particular chemical solutions to the bronze along with the catalyst of heat. Different chemicals produce different colors; the easiest and most common colors are brown, green, and black, but an astonishing variety of shades, combinations and layering can be achieved by a foundry's skilled patina artists. Amy Bright Unfried often combines different colors in a single piece for a polychrome effect; for example, in her "Flora," "Pomona," and "Quiet" the female figures wear dresses of green and their skin and hair are shades of brown and black.
Third is bronze's extraordinary tensile strength, which permits the creation of compositions in bronze which would be impossible in media such as stone, wood or terra cotta - compositions involving cantilevering or balancing of larger forms on a smaller base, or very thin passages such as drapery that does not cover a larger form. Some of Amy Bright Unfried's sculpture of which this is true are figurative pieces such as "Annunciation," "Dreamer" and "Robert, a Dancer," as well as her many trees with birds and her Moebius strip pieces, none of which could be achieved in media other than bronze.
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