Find It In Fondren™ had the honor of meeting with Bruce Niemi yesterday. The internationally acclaimed sculptor is in town for an artist’s reception tonight at circa. URBAN ARTISAN LIVING in Fondren. We sat down with the Kenosha, Wisconsin man to learn about his work and inspiration.
So a Northerner, huh?
Yes, Northern Illinois born and raised, but I’ve been in Kenosha, Wisconsin for the last ten years. They’ve embraced me. And I have work in the Milwaukee Art Museum, and the Wisconsin Artists’ Museum featuring a ten foot tall piece of mine.
What got you started?
I was an odd mix in college (at Northern Illinois University.) I was an artist, wrestler, frat boy and dancer, so I’m not your stereotypical sculptor! I guess I see movement in everything, a flow if you will.
And what brings you to Mississippi? Some people have told us they know you from the Renaissance Art Festival.
True, I have been here before – and it was hot! I met the Escudes (circa. owners Craig and Michele) at SOFA Chicago art show five or six years ago. They saw me at Renaissance last year and remembered me. Actually, I was here before they bought the building last year.
And what do you think of their store?
I think it’s great what they have done. The idea is good. The mix is eclectic artisans: contemporary ones, earthy ones; there’s a wide range, something for everyone. I think that eclectic feel in a home is better than stereotypical matching!
You’re a metal sculptor. What makes you do what you do?
I was given a gift by God to be creative. When I start a work, the idea is to be uplifting. I’m hoping to divert spirits away from the negativity of the world. I hope to educate people. The work can open people’s minds, but sometimes it takes time to embrace what I do. Being seen in non-traditional venues helps, I think. They have great strengths here to educate, too, so I’m glad to be at circa. tonight.
Your pieces are beautiful. They just flow! It must come easy?
Not always. I work on three to five pieces at a time. If I get a “block”, I move on. Subconsciously, I come back to the piece I had trouble on, and it flows. They say your subconscious can bring a solution, and that’s how it always seems to work. I pray before starting a piece. I ask for guidance. When I’m cocky, and try to force it, nothing happens. I have be to be humble, and ask for help. My mind opens and the work flows.
How do you explain your style?
An elderly lady saw an installation of abstracts I was in charge of. She said “when I was young, a flower looked like a flower. That’s what art is!” So I showed her Picasso. What would happen if you took him away, I asked? People didn’t understand him at first. Now, he is considered an international treasure. People see so many things in my work. You see different things every time you walk around. I say ‘use your imagination.’ I get great names for my pieces from people, some that make me laugh. And I get new fans (He says the elderly lady who questioned him now loves his work.)
So what is the invite for tonight?
Come see one of a kind pieces that will uplift. Many people say they are inspired. I hear “I don’t like abstract, but I like your work.” Maybe, if that’s you, after tonight, you will say the same thing, too.
Give Bruce a HUGE Mississippi welcome (back) tonight at circa. URBAN ARTISAN LIVING from 6pm-8pm. There will be live jazz from Pam Confer’s Jazz Beautiful. Find circa. at 2771 Old Canton Road in the historic Fondren neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi.