My artistic journey began with ceramics. After 15 years making functional pottery, I left New York City for California to study with Viola Frey at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland. It was Viola’s totemic clay figures that inspired the scale of my work.
I started working in cardboard in 1991. Cardboard allows me to make monumental, yet lightweight forms, and eliminate the cumbersome process of clay. Frank Gehry’s cardboard furniture was my initial inspiration. My abstract sculptures read as metaphors for life experiences, such as the balancing acts that define our lives. “How far can I build this before it collapses?” is a question on my mind as I work. Ultimately my interest is in expanding the possibilities of making beauty from a common and mundane material.
By casting ordinary cardboard into bronze or fiberglass for public art projects, I am illustrating that things are not always what they appear to be. Even in other materials it is easy to see the details of the former lives of cardboard boxes and individual staples. This humble origin is part of the innovation, charm and humor of the artwork.
One of the unique qualities of my art is the psychological component. Neither entirely representational nor abstract, but something in between, I want the viewers to bring their own associations to the artwork. Working with a palette of simple forms (cylinders and circles), the sculptures are symbolic of male and female forms and the natural world. I use architecture and art historical references to evoke memory, relationships and morality in my sculpture.
“Ann Weber’s large sculptures made from woven strips of cardboard synthesize ancient and modern, craft and high art. The biomorphic gourd shapes suggest traditional basketry, but also, with their human size, their open grids and peepholes, pre-industrial coffins or cages, and their probing necks (smokestacks or chimneys), they’re imbued with life and as anthropomorphic as Giorgio Morandi’s bottles.”—Dewitt Cheng, Artweek, February 2007