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Fine Art at the Magnolia Presents

Dominice Gilbert
on Zen, Childhood, and the Moment of Self Discovery
Aug. 13, 2021

Dominice in her Studio
Dominice in her Studio

I started building a zen garden right at the beginning of the pandemic. I thought "OK! I'm gonna do something positive with this time!" My favorite place to sit in the garden is on a swing my grandfather built, which I keep alongside my herb garden that's mixed with flowers and muscadine grapes. A lot of people say gardening is their therapy. I feel the same way.

I just love the Japanese aesthetic -- the simplicity and the relationship to the elements. I think it works well with the industrial style of my sculptures, there's an interesting blend there.

Zen Garden in Dominice's St. Pete studio
Zen Garden in Dominice's St. Pete studio

I grew up in the middle of nowhere. I mean, it was just farmland. You could barely make out your neighbor's house. Before I went to kindergarten my mom would help farm by driving a tractor and my brother and I would ride around with her for hours on end. I think this is where my connection to the metal, earth, and plant life began.

FAM2021 Date and Location
FAM2021 Date and Location

As a child I would make popup cards out of paper. I would do all kinds of patterns and everything would fold and pop up or have texture. I have always really enjoyed pattern making. In high school, I started experimenting with wire sculpture. I would dig in the dumpster at the local car shop, where students could learn to repair cars. There were always interesting things in there, I would pull them out and wire them together and make creations out of the scrap.

OK! I'm gonna do something positive with this time!

My high school art teacher asked "why don't you take AG Welding out there with the boys?", so I did and I was like "oh my god this is it, I've been looking for this forever!" As soon as I found welding I realized "this is what I've been looking for", and from then on I just really focused on working with metal.

An exhibit in Dominice's St. Pete studio
An exhibit in Dominice's St. Pete studio

I make a pattern for every sculpture that I create. I start out with small sketches, then I fit that on a projector and blow them up to be as large as needed. That's the starting point, I figure out the dimentionality as I go. Sometimes my work is more elemental, blowing in the breeze, flowy. While others are more formal, relating to the duality in my personality.

I most enjoy the rolling, bending, and bringing together of the initial piece. I will keep working with the patina until it is something that is acceptable for me. Sometimes, I check it out and I'm like "oh my gosh look what nature did, this is perfect!" and then other times, it's like "this is not enough!", so I will continue to work it, there's a balance. As time has passed I have loosened up with my work. I am more comfortable making changes in the moment.

This is it, I've been looking for this forever!

For me, I need to be creative to basically exist. It's more of an escape for me, not something I try to do. We're living in a world, as humans, that is just so bizarre. I see how people can't relate with nature, can't live in harmony with it, and I'm trying to find a way to make it make sense. Trying to find harmony in the world, with my work.

People are welcome to come visit in my zen garden, sit and just relax for a bit, as a part of Artwalk -- every second Saturday in St. Pete. I feel that visiting my studio really shows how my sculptures interact with one another, with nature, and embody my aesthetic.

Fin -- Dominice Gilbert
Fin -- Dominice Gilbert

The Bohrer Gallery

Betsy Bohrer, Founder and Curator.
Zach Weatherby, Web, Journal, and Accounts.
Zoe Alexander, Film and Media Director.
Ridley Aligerum, Marketing and Graphic Design.

With gratitude to the City of Lakeland department of Parks and Recreation, the Polk Museum of Art, the Polk Arts and Cultural Alliance, and all of our artists, patrons, and guests.
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