The New York Optimist
September 2008
Natalie Tyler originally from Encinitas, California. She lived for eight
years in Northern California where she studied sculpture and
was inspired by the natural landscape. Conceptually much of
her works intention is as a reminder of link between human
and nature. In an ever changing technology filled world,
many of life's simple solutions are found in nature. It is her
intention in art to relate the human experience through the
symbolism found in nature. And to show the power of nature
through it reclaimation of human built structures. She
received her BA from University of California at Santa Cruz.
She studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna, Italy.
She received her MFA from California College of Art in 2002.
She taught bronze casting for two years in the Bay Area at
The Crucible. She has lived in New York and New Jersey for
four years working as a freelance sculptor and art director
for film. She is a third year artist in residence at the
Mendocino Art Center.  She was recently selected for a full
fellowship at the Vermont Studio Center as an artist in
residence.  Her work has been exhibited in San
Francisco,CA, New York, NY, and Dublin, Ireland.
Bronze Resin,

Artist Statement- I Girasoli
Natalie Tyler

Several years ago, when I was fresh off the plane in Italy, I took a train from Rome to
Bologna. After 12 hours of traveling from the states, no sleep, and a lot of confusion, I
found myself staring out the window on a very crowded train. Just outside of Rome, near
Tuscany, I was mesmerized by the endless acres of sunflowers. I had just missed them in
all their glory. For most, their heads were down; stems were tall, thin, and barely
standing. I found the flowers in this state, so intriguing. Much more so than when they
were healthier. I began to think about the thin line that exists between what is beautiful and
what is grotesque. How could something so close to death be so enrapturing?

After I heard of four fashion models that had died because of poor nutrition, I began to
see a connection between these dying sunflowers and our contemporary view of ideal
beauty. The tall, thin, high cheekbones, doe-eyed women, are today’s deities of beauty.
They stand as role models, setting the trends and influencing our perspectives. In this
case, a beauty attainable through starvation.

The sunflowers are cast in bronze. They stand four to seven feet tall on roots. The roots
are bare, taken out of soil, deprived of their nutrients. Each stem has a female body
sculpted onto it. Each figure is a pose taken from various fashion model photographs. The
figures disappear when standing at a distance from the grove. The heads of the flowers
droop down, some missing seeds. Without nutrients the ovulation stops…fertility stops.

There are fifteen sunflowers. I created a grove of flowers representing the community
affected by these standards. Each flower, an individual, with a different experience,
feeling isolated, within her secret thoughts. Yet the number of women, who never feel thin
enough, continues to grow.
Above- Boats One Down

Right- Boats II

Below- Boats I (click to enlarge)


Artist Statement

My work investigates decay, reclaiming of nature, relics that tell a
story of the past. These artworks tell of the life cycle based in a
dwelling, the birth, abandonment, reclaimation of nature, and
regeneration. They are all parts of the cycle of life, representing
our human experience with the earth.

In my most recent installation, “Nests”, the bronze birds nests
enfold and support the eggs during their time of incubation. The
eggs also nurture and support the embryos inside them. Birds are
very spiritual creatures, probably the one animal that is the closest
to the heavens. When the birds are still forming, not yet out of
their shell and able to stand or fly on their own, they are very
fragile. They represent the potential of flight, reaching of the high
elevation. The nest, the home that the parent bird has created is
very important to the future sustainability of these forming

A second body of work is about insect gestations. The current
piece is a large bronze “Yellow Jacket Nest”. Yellow Jackets unlike
honeybees do not create their nest for honey. They just create it
for reproduction. The larva are made from translucent
polyurethane rubber that allows light to pass through them
symbolizing energy, change and the manifestation going on inside.
The nest has that held many forming yellow jackets, now starting
to decay, can still bear life.

The Third body of work is investigating decrepit sheds, houses,
and barns from small California towns that represent the
communities of the past. Still standing and not currently used, they
are intriguing structures now even more so than when they were
first built. The buildings are all uninhabitable, but the fact they are
left standing and have become part of the counties beautiful
landscape shows the appreciation that the communities have for
preserving their past history. The structures after being weather
torn, burned, or collapsed, now dictate their history by what is left.
By capturing their image in bronze they are now relics of the
history preserved in their current state. They each have stories to
tell, hinting to the lives that have lived within them.

Casting bronze has become a way for me to immortalize some of
these moments in time. Nature is my where I find much of my
inspiration for creating work that symbolizes the depth of the
human experience. I work in layers, much like a novel, to tell a
visual story.
Nest Cinque
Yellow Jacket Nest Front
Yellow Jacket Nest Side
(click to enlarge)

Natalie Michel Tyler