€Truth€ Molded with Faith

Larry Saxton | 4/29/2009, 4:53 p.m.

African American sculptor, painter, and printmaker Artis Lane writes in her bio, €There is just one truth, one mind, one God; and man is a reflection and an expression of that highest idea.€ Soft-spoken and small in stature, she has in her hands the power to create what she sees as enduring spiritual truths. Her spiritual beliefs are at the core of her work. Her bust of Sojourner Truth, commissioned by The National Congress of Black Women, Inc. will be placed in the United States Capitol. Lane€s work has been exhibited around the world, and is in the private collections of Bill Cosby, Oprah Winfrey, Linda Evans, Cicely Tyson, Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Poiter, and Mr. and Mrs. Michael Jordan, to name a few.

Lane€s art has progressed through three phases: portraiture, social issues and metaphysics. She has painted portraits of Jaqueline Kennedy, Nelson Mandela, and former President Reagan. Her social works include her painting €The Beginning,€ depicting Rosa Parks sitting on the bus that fateful day. Her metaphysics phase began while at the foundry to oversee the completion of some of her work. She noticed a piece in mid-process. The outer ceramic shell, which holds the wax mold in place, was partially removed, revealing the bronze within. What she saw was €the exact metaphor for the process by which we move out of the tangible and the physical toward the perfect, spiritual idea it-self.€ This was the beginning of her €Emerging into Spirit€ series.

She was born 1927 in North Buxton, Ontario, Canada. Lane studied art at the Art College of Toronto, Canada; the Cranbrooke Art Academy; and at UCLA. She is a descendant of renowned abolitionist, educator, and publisher Mary Ann Shadd Cary. A friend of the late civil rights icon Rosa Parks, Lane sculpted the bust of Parks now on display in the Smithsonian Institute Portrait Gallery, and was asked to execute the design of the Congressional Medal of Honor that was awarded to Ms. Parks.

Artis Lane lives and works in Los Angeles, CA, where she says she spends most of her time working and praying in her studio. She is in Washington, DC for the unveiling of what some consider to be her most important commission: the bust of Sojourner Truth, the first memorial to a black woman to be placed in the United States Capitol. Artis Lane talked to the Washington Informer about her work.

WI: What was it about sculpture that made you fall in love with it?
It€s like being a mini god. I hate to sound irreverent, but when you create a full form, it€s like you€re bringing life, or a sense of life beyond painting, which is a flat surface. I am just in awe of what is coming out of me. So what is it like? It€s just awe inspiring for me to watch it grow and come to fruition. There are rough periods as it develops, but the final victory is won with the last touch.

WI: How does it feel, as an artist, to have your work displayed in the U.S. Capitol?
How does it feel? It€s as if it had been pre-ordained, and that I have done the work and I have been faithful

WI: After doing the research on Sojourner Truth, what was the one thing that was on your mind each day as you molded and shaped her?
To bring a life to her. To try to give the sense of the divine in Sojourner Truth. She gave herself that name as a journey throughout life to bring God to people; that was her mission. Mine is the same as hers. I felt like she was a sister who I honored.