About the Artist
Whether combining steel, rock and flame or applying oils on leather and canvas, the artistry of Sara Balbin reflects the diversity of the family of man and the natural environment that surrounds her northwestern Wisconsin studio.
Since 1976, Balbin (BFA, MA, ATR) has operated from her Dragonfly Studio near the Chequamegon National Forest in Drummond, Wisconsin. Her current style of artwork has been strongly influenced by these surroundings, her Cuban-born heritage and a decades long association with the local band of the Ojibwe, or Anishinaabe (original people) of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians.
Her primary forms of expression are metal sculpture and oil paintings that reflect a multi-cultural influence.
Her large public sculptures are well known in the Cable area of Northern Wisconsin. While her more intimate expressions in smaller figurative steel sculptures demonstrate a diversity of vision and talent for tools.
With the support of two National Endowment for the Arts and Wisconsin Arts Board grants, Balbin has helped preserve the history of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe in a series of thirty-two oil portrait paintings known as the “Hall of Elders”. With the assistance of a grant from the Wisconsin Outagamie Charitable Foundation, Holy Cow! Press (Duluth, MN) will publish this series of allegorical portraits along with historical biographies as “Spirit of the Ojibwe, Images of Lac Courte Oreilles Elders” in 2011.
About the Artwork
“Whether working in oils or metal, I strive to explore the integrity of mankind and the environment.” Balbin continued, “ My sculptures reflect nature and the fluid motion of the human form. To better incorporate my sculptures into an earthy setting, I use glacially deposited rocks, animal images and found artifacts”.
Her interior and exterior landscape sculptures are designed to play with the natural light of the environment creating short and long shadows with the changing of the seasons. Balbin believes, “Each of my sculptures has an energy, a spirit of its very own that is brought to life with light, the seasons and the interplay of man.”
The Penokee Hills are the headwaters for streams and rivers that flow into Lake Superior. The sustainability of the waters is essential for our survival. Over countless generations past and to come, Flowing Waters are a life giving, healing and essential resource. These sculptural designs have allowed me to echo the importance of water and its relationship to humanity. Stainless steel combined with mild steel accented with Lake Superior wave washed rocks and tumbled agates provide the visual impact for this water based theme.