Cherry Blossom Canopy, 2005

David Wiseman

Location: Los Angeles, California
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David Wiseman brings nature indoors. In Los Angeles, a city better known for cars and concrete, Wiseman draws inspiration from its parks and gardens, an essential, yet underrated, part of the landscape. Growing up in Pasadena, California, Wiseman spent a lot of time “staring at nature,” and his observations from his youth are a critical element of his work.

As a sophomore at the Rhode Island School of Design, Wiseman began selling some of his early ceramic designs, including deer hat hangers that riffed on the taxidermied trophy animal heads found in many a stuffy establishment. After graduating from RISD in 2003, Wiseman moved back home to Pasadena and bought a kiln, and began developing a series of pieces that reveal his respect for the subtleties of nature. For instance, his Wall Forests are water-based resin castings made from a collection of fallen tree branches. Wiseman attaches the pale, textured branches to a wall in loose, sculptural groupings that at once meld seamlessly with the surface and appear to be pushing through it from behind. Both a memory of something that has lived out its natural cycle and a reminder that nature is never far away, Wiseman’s Wall Forests possess a quiet and powerful beauty. He also makes vases in porcelain and bronze, their asymmetrical faceted forms inspired by an imagined world of crystalline mountains.

This year, in Wiseman’s most ambitious project to date, spring came early to a home in Los Angeles’s Hancock Park neighborhood. In a place where the sun almost always shines and seasons can slip by unnoticed, flowering trees signal the advent of a new season. Cherry blossoms grow from intertwined branches in an exquisite, almost rococo ceiling relief Wiseman created for his client’s dining room. Preferring to work alone, he spent the better part of a year casting more than 500 porcelain blossoms and nearly 100 plaster branches in his studio, then climbing up and down a ladder to attach them to the ceiling. The sinuous path of the branches across the ceiling’s surface was not predetermined and, as a result, is as organic as it would be in nature.

For the Triennial, Wiseman will bring spring to the Carnegie Mansion in December with an explosion of cherry blossoms so lush and dense that, he predicts, “its beauty will hurt your eyes.”