By Leti Wesolowski, contributor
Figurative sculptor, painter, and art therapist, Marica Hefti is a Swiss-born artist who fell in love with art at a very young age. She studied at the College of Fine Arts in Zurich, Switzerland where she was educated under constructivists Max Bill and Hans Fischli in the Bauhaus tradition of Kandinsky’s school of “Form und Farbe.” Her post graduate studies and teaching took her from Switzerland to Italy, Liechtenstein, the Bahamas and California, settling down in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 1991.
While she produced landscapes in many medias, her one true love and passion has been, and still is, creating art based on the human figure, exploring a variety of media such as Conté crayon, watercolor, bronze and terracotta sculptures. Her work has been shown in galleries and museums all over Europe and the United States and she has received numerous awards. Currently, the best place to purchase Marica’s hand-built terracotta sculptures and paintings is Commonwheel Artist's Co-op in Manitou Springs, CO.
How did you get interested in art?
Already at the age of five I considered myself to be a “serious artist.” At that time I did not accept critique willingly. Through the years I learned, however, that it was less important what people thought of my art but how it affected them.
What does making art mean to you?
Art is my life. Without it I would be just a hollow shell.
Where do you get inspiration?
Inspiration can come from anywhere: a word spoken, a song, a beautiful landscape or human being I see, something I read or experience.
You are a figurative sculptor and also a painter. Which media do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy all art forms equally. I will pick the medium according to which one would illustrate best what I want to express. When I feel playful I may paint one of my colorful “Western Romance” pictures. I would paint a landscape when I marvel at the beauty surrounding me, or I may turn to sculpture to express my spiritual needs or just to revel in the grace of the human form.
Tell us about your creative process. Walk us through the steps to create one of your works.
Throughout my long life as an artist I have used many medias. In my younger years I used more conventional ones, such as oil painting for landscapes and portraits or bronze for sculpture. For several years I was enthralled by stone lithography. To this day I use Conté crayon when working with live models or ink-pen for very quick sketches on the road.
In my forties I discovered the immediacy and lightheartedness of watercolor, which lead to reverse glass painting and in turn to the liquid watercolors I now employ for my “Western Romance” pictures.
I never liked using sticky modeling clay to model the originals for my bronzes. A modeling compound called DAS came to my rescue. It adheres marvelously to metal or any other support and once dried, it can be chiseled, carved and sanded. But…that was then.
About twenty years ago and inspired by the work of Hungarian sculptor Kovacs Margit, the terracotta sculpture of the Toltecs, as well as the famous Chinese Warriors, I turned to terracotta and so far I haven’t looked back. I love the dry tactility of red sculpting clay, the challenge of sculpting the human figure without the crutch of metal supports, the mystery and anticipation of the firing as well as the fact that each piece is an original.
What is the visual effect or emotion you look for capturing in your compositions?
Visual effects are secondary to my creative process. I strive to recreate what moves me: express the love I feel for the subject; in other words, to share the wonder I feel.
Is there an artist that you admire or follow?
During my formative years I leaned heavily on the philosophies of Wassily Kandinsky, Pablo Picasso, Henry Matisse and Auguste Rodin. Now I pretty much choose my own way, my own challenges.
What is your proudest achievement?
I do count the 30 feet long by 8 feet tall “Three Sisters” steel and terracotta sculpture at the Saint Francis Medical Center as the most important piece of my life. Not only because of the sheer size of it or the fact that it may well be the only freestanding terracotta relief in existence; it means much more to me than that. The selfless love and charity of the Sisters of Saint Francis (founders of Saint Francis Hospital) and the Sisters of Charity (founders of Penrose) that it documents, opened up my eyes and heart to my own spiritual needs. It led me to the Benedictine Sisters of Benet Hill who are helping me to fill a void that I didn’t even know existed.
Marica's larger-than-life outdoor terracotta and steel relief “Three Sisters” panels are displayed at the entrance of the new Saint Francis Medical Center in Colorado Springs. To learn more about each panel, her visions and concepts, visit her blog at http://earthandfire-marica.blogspot.com/2008
What is/are your favorite(s) piece(s) for sale at Commonwheel? And why?
At Commonwheel I am primarily showing my figurative terracotta sculpture (and my Saint and Angels wall pieces). I hand-build those with outdoor-quality clay which is fired at high temperatures for maximum vitrification and durability. Each is a one-of-a-kind original piece of art. All pieces are signed and dated. As a secondary medium I also show some reverse-glass paintings. I love all my pieces. They all have stories and I hope that each will have special meaning to whoever acquires one.
What’s next for you?
The future’s not mine to see! I hope for many more years of the challenge, the exploration and the wonder of art.
Visit the shop and receive 10% off all Marica’s creations through the whole month of June.
You can find her work online also at our online shop. Follow her on Pinterest (pinterest.com/MaricaHefti) or Facebook (facebook.com/MaricaHefti). She also wrote a book available in Amazon (Marica-Hefti/e/B00JXRM5IQ)