David Soderberg sees his work as creating poetry in bronze. His expanding series of editions titled Poem of the Pond, Path of the Wind, Path of Joy, etc., each uniquely echoes poetry’s grand flow through life’s challenges and surprises.
An extremely private artist in an extended family comprising five professional sculptors, artists, novelists, and a father who painted, he now resides—after decades absorbing the monumental deserts of Arizona—among the wind-sculpted hills of the Idaho Palouse, home to the pounding hoofs and flying mane of the world-famous Apaloosa. He has been drawing and sculpting human and animal anatomy, writing poetry, and composing music since childhood in India. In five furloughs around the world (his father was a civil engineer in the U.S. State Department to Afghanistan, India, Thailand) he experienced great art and architecture first-hand throughout Europe, Asia, the Orient, and the U.S.
David delights in the extra-difficult pas de deux and pas de trois—two or three forms entwined organically, as in ballet, to create a hugely enriched work of emotion and sensitivity: The Pond in the Poem of the Pond series, or Secrets in the Path of Joy series, or Wings in the Path of the Wind series, and so on.
In sketches, wire maquettes, clays, and finally in the sun-polished beauty of patinaed bronzes, David crafts many works simultaneously, something like conducting a choir of sculptures that echo and reinforce each other for many months in his studio under many lighting conditions. Yet in this environment, he treats each new work as a new voice—a burgeoning poem—that has something beautiful to tell us within its own carefully balanced poetic clarity which may take years to develop fully. After all, he says, each one of us is a poet sculpting our own river of meaning through life’s surprising yet sometimes resisting canyon walls. Why should not sculpture be like that?
What then is Poetry? “Poetry is not the howl and sigh of yesterday’s despairs,” he has written, “but the crossroads of your own destiny.” For David, less is more in poetry, sculpture, and life.
Michelangelo sculpted dramatic gestures. Bernini sculpted pathos. David also sculpts what is not there—what is only hinted at. The series Poem of the Pond invites the viewer to SEE the water of the pond—even though the surface of the pond is not shown, but only suggested, and to HEAR the sounds of (un-shown) life around the pond. The series Path of the Wind similarly invites us to FEEL the air that engulfs, uplifts, and rewards our leap of faith into the soaring empire of the sky of freedom, joy, and power, into stunning vistas of life that we did not realize were there.
David’s art, in sculpting “more than what is noticed,” gives the viewer far more than what is “there”. Again, his bronzes change as their lighting changes, revealing deeper nuances and dimensions as the sun through the bay windows rises and sets. And for his bronzes that require a base, he designs sculptures to appear to float away from the base, to create the illusion that there is no support, mount, or base at all—again, sculpting the illusion of nothing being there—but air.
But of course, that is the point—the impression that there is a moment of gemstone clarity where your life touches art unexpectedly in a sudden glance down the hallway canyon where the morning sun shines off the perfect curves of the displayed bronze—like the wind that flows over the curves of the Palouse to uplift the wings of hawks and eagles and a granddaughter’s heart as she gallops her horse, dear friend and confidante for life. For David Soderberg, these images are the basis of all his hopes and art, where time is suspended at the crossroads of significance.