For many years Florence Suerig wove her artistic sensibilities and heart’s journeyings into fabric weavings - astonishing works of color, design, energy, surprise and deep feeling. Then, suddenly, she discovered CLAY and the material, its possibilities, her own gifts for the working of it, all hit her as a revelation. The subsequent dedication and passion of her exploration resulted in sculptures which continue to take her by surprise; they breathe and soar in space and sensuality, keeping company with Cycladic sculptures, Brancusi’s sculptures, and the sculptures of Florence’s own personal hero, Henry Moore.

Her artist statement in the (superb) little catalogue of her show at the Silvermine Guild Arts Center, New Canaan, CT, spring 2009, begins with this sentence: “My work is inspired by the dancer’s body moving through space.” For some years now, and bridging her shift from weaving to ceramic sculpture, Suerig has been part of an improvisational dance collaborative in Greenwich, CT called Moving Arts Collaborative. The members of this collaborative are encouraged, within the framework and vocabulary of serious dance improvisation, to freely follow their individual imaginations and bodily impulses. Responding to an eclectic variety of music (and to silence) they collaborate to create energized spatial architecture through a focused flow of movement.

Florence Suerig’s sculptures are a natural extension of these dance improvisations. She has created “Dancers” from the timeless bleached substances of her ceramics. Her sculptures fly, they turn, they dance with each other, or sink into deep private worlds taking recognizable shapes, but then metamorphosing into flights of abstract energy as one circles and peruses them. They move the space around them even as, in the viewer’s imagination, they themselves are moved by the space. Their sense of flow (which may well also derive from Suerig’s long-time immersion in Tai Chi) exists simultaneously with a deep stillness. Stillness, of course, is a key element of dance; it is the “silence of movement,” one might say.

Florence Suerig’s sculptures take inspiration from shells, stones, birds, flowers, trees, but go far beyond anything found in nature. Each is a distinct Mythic Personage – an expanded, exploring, sexual creature of air, water, fire (with earth their primary bleached substance). They seem to move to some unheard music of the imagination – just as human personages are transformed by dance improvisation into an almost mythic interactive life in space. “HOW CAN WE KNOW THE DANCER FROM THE DANCE?”*

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Florence Phillips is a professional stage and TV actress who once worked at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Her family includes many working artists and art historians; (her brother-in-law, Timothy D. Llewellyn, recently retired after more than a decade as Director of The Henry Moore Foundation, Perry Green, U.K.)

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* William Butler Yeats: from Among Schoolchildren
“….. O chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom, or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glace,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?”