Bess French creates sculptural and encaustic work that focus on found objects and the natural world. She exhibits nationally, most recently at Art Queen Gallery in Joshua Tree, CA and virtually through Sculpture Alliance’s international juried show “Detritus” based in NYC. She has had solo shows of her assemblage work at Nazareth College, Colby Sawyer College, The Robert Lincoln Levy Gallery and AVA Gallery. Her assemblage sculptures were selected as part of the Women’s Caucus for Art, Washington, DC Chapter’s juried Social Justice Art Exhibition, “See My Color”. Bess is a juried member of the New Hampshire Art Association, The New England Sculptors Association, AVA Gallery and the Women’s Caucus for Art. Bess French holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of New Hampshire and a M.Ed. from Antioch University.
I am interested in exploring historical and personal narratives by creating and building with specific found objects. My assemblage pieces often address the cyclical and symbiotic life cycles revolving around the concepts of home and motherhood. Within various antique wood boxes, vintage frames or concrete forms, I explore personal anecdotes and universal themes using natural and found objects. As a single mother raising two children, my sculptural work often deals with the struggles, challenges, and joys of parenting. I am intrigued by the stories that simple, old, and discarded everyday objects can tell. The experimentation that comes from the unique merging and blending of these inspiring materials is what motivates me to create. It is the processes of discovery, the preparation, and then the making of the art itself, that remains for me the most profound. It is about taking risks, combining various, and often, disconnected elements to tell visual stories of pain, loss, love, and redemption.
How does the theme ‘Biosphere’ play a role in your work?
I grew up in the woods of New Hampshire gardening, hiking and spending many hours outside. My sisters and I played unstructured and unsupervised games, made tree forts, captured and cared for insects, toads and frogs. From my youngest most formative years I was learning the magic that the natural world held. The beauty of fungi, the excitement of finding a fox skull, the thrill of climbing in the White Mountains. My artwork has incorporated various elements from nature as it has evolved over the years from skulls, to fur, to dead honey bees and honeycomb. My current work consists of various concrete forms that are mini-biospheres, tiny segments of land, some with man-made structures. I considered these sculptures similar to earth core samples and work to portray a realistic landscape within each. I embed rocks, stones, natural fibers and sand from specific geographic locations into the concrete mix, thus tying each sculpture to a specific location. I hope to create a narrative of some prior human interaction with the landscape, often juxtaposed with the serene beauty of a landscape untouched by human hands.