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Artworks created in a poetic sense

June 24, 2011|By Terri Martin

There is a fabulously interesting Greek word—poema—which means “to make”— with a cascade of nuances, which implies detailed workmanship, a masterpiece or the most special creation of the creator. It is the origin of our English word “poem,” but was used by ancient Greeks to ascribe special status to the work of sculptors, poets and painters with the ability to do more than just describe physiognomy, but who could imbue the spiritual thumbprint of their subjects.

As a lifelong artist, octogenarian Artis Lane’s bronze and painted portraits conflate sculpture and personality in presidents, movie stars and cultural icons. Her installation series titled “Emerging Into Spirit” personifies spiritual development of generic man. After completing a physical representation, Lane lives with her art, continuing to nurture it with minute alterations until she is satisfied that the spirit is expressed. The “poema” of Artis Lane currently can be seen at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale.

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The buoyant Lane began her career with a focus on portraiture. She became a thread, running through politics, Hollywood and history. She captured gentle determination in the eyes of Ronald Reagan’s bronze bust. Michelle and Barrack Obama are depicted with the exactitude of ancient Egyptian profiles. Mrs. Obama unveiled Lane’s soulful bronze portrait of emancipation suffragette Sojourner Truth, now part of the collection of the U.S. Capitol.

The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery honored the artist for a bronze likeness of her life-long friend and civil rights activist Rosa Parks. And Academy Award-winner Jamie Foxx commissioned a portrait painting of entertainment icon and social activist Oprah Winfrey, which was presented on her syndicated variety program (the only piece described that is not in the exhibition). Lane’s work is not superficial and she continues to weave her thread through the world.

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