Steel Mesh Sculpture

by Donald Kolberg

The variety of mediums used to create sculpture has expanded in the last century. Yet the traditional methods of reduction and addition still dominate the creative process. This includes carving, modeling, welding, casting and collage. Within the art community there is a new process confined to the manipulation of the surface of the medium of steel mesh. This modern medium is being used to capture the form and movement of subjects through the interpretation of its unique open surface and elastic properties.

Steel mesh is being bent, pressed, stretched and twisted into forms that ignore the typical mass found in most sculpture while still maintaining the visual sense of volume. Its open surface texture is filled with an air and softness creating a sense of weightlessness. While the interaction of the mesh with light develops depth, the resulting shadow creates a play between the two images that enhances the sculpture’s movement. The hard steel surface of the sculpture becomes pliable. The shadow becomes a sharp edged drawing reflecting the original form.

Many artists using this medium are continuing to work within the frame of traditional figurative art. They employ the use of a model and create gestural sculptures that define the form in new relationships to the space they occupy. Masses associated with the traditional proportions of the figure are exploited in ways that blend the sculpture into planes that enhance the anatomical structure.

Because of the open mesh they are able to explore the underlying tension of muscles and movement in relation to the implied mass of the figure. Shadows created by these sculptures appear three dimensional, complementing the original structure of the art. Viewed together they are a dance of form and movement that has not been seen in traditional carving or modeling.

Abstract forms created in steel mesh have opened visual planes typically lost in the observation of traditional sculpture. The inherent open nature of the material allows us to see the back and front of pieces from a single point of view. As we move around the sculpture we maintain an almost cubist perception of the spatial elements. Planes of form move from background to foreground and back again, creating a movement along the surface and through the mass of the sculpture.

Steel mesh allows the artist to play with the spatial elements in ways that move visual form from stationary to dynamic concepts. No longer tied to the bulk of the medium, concepts of light and shadow are integrated within surface properties in ways that provide the viewer a fresh and exciting exploration of this contemporary form of sculpture.

Donald Kolberg is a successful sculptor and painter. He maintains an open dialouge with fellow artists through his website and free monthly newsletter Art Core which can be read at

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via Steel Mesh Sculpture.

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Donald Kolberg graduated with a Fine Arts Degree from California State University, Los Angeles. He taught at the Los Angeles School of Art and co-founded Art Core, an organization dedicated to the open dialogue and display of the work of emerging artists. He continued his Master studies at Otis Art Institute. While at Otis Art Institute his teacher and main influence was internationally recognized painter Arnold Mesches. In Artcore he worked under the guidance of Lydia Takashita. With their teaching Donald learned the value of depth, texture and form in images and surface. He incorporated this into his concept of Life Forms, the portrayal of the human figure as a landscape of life and a celebration of form through Sculpture and Painting.

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