News and Features

Getting Plastered With George Segal

Guest Blogger Gail Sachson owns Ask Me About Art, an art education service, is Vice-Chair of the Cultural Affairs Commission and a member of the Public Art Committee.

The Nasher Sculpture Center realizes that there is no better way to add to the joy of looking at art than to experiment with the materials and techniques of the artist. So, Saturday morning, a group of about 20  gathered  there in a two hour art-making experience in the style of George Segal, painter turned chicken farmer turned sculptor and social commentator.

“George Segal: Street Scenes,” 15 figurative installations focusing in on what Segal witnessed and resonated with him while he walked the streets of New York from the 1960s-90s, will be on exhibit at the Nasher through April 5. Segal, who died in 2000, has left us a legacy of the lonely in a  crowded urban environment. He has  left us a three-dimensional scrapbook of those lost in thought and those just lost.  He has captured those moments when anything could happen, as his subjects wait.  They wait for a bus.  They  wait for food. They wait for the morning, and they wait for a better life.

Nasher Education Director Stephen Ross, aided by Anna Smith, helped us on that bright day in the rarefied galleries of the Sculpture Center feel the pain of the penniless and the hopelessness of the homeless. Once immersed in their world, we experimented with the materials and method that Segal used to create his figures.

Segal had asked friends and relatives to be his models and allow him to wrap them and their clothing in plaster and gauze.  He was interested in the recognition of the plight, rather than the person. Wisely, for the sake of time, liability, messiness and possibly no volunteers, Ross offered us plastic masks to cover with plaster-covered gauze strips, similar to those used by Segal and developed by Johnson & Johnson as a medical supply. We dipped cut strips into water to liquefy the plaster and laid them over the face of the mask. About 30 minutes later, the gauze masks were dry and could be gently removed from the mask. Cautioned not to try this at home on our friends’ faces (at least not without Nivea under the plastered gauze), we took our art works home to display as proud schoolchildren do.

Although the Nasher offers a plethora of children’s classes, this was the first Adult Studio Workshop. Because we grown-ups were good listeners, followed directions and were well-behaved, the Nasher will offer this educational and entertaining workshop two more times. Do it!  Feb. 21 and March 28 10 a.m. to noon.  $10. Call 214.242.5170 for more information.