Coleen Sterritt

Featured Structure Artist

Coleen Sterritt

For more than 40 years, Los Angeles artist Coleen Sterritt has produced riveting sculptures that focus on the interactions between nature, culture, and lived experience. She pulls from a variety of materials of everyday life; plaster, tar, pinecones, fishing line, found furniture, and studio waste are just some of the components she uses to question the diverse possibilities of sculpture in both scale and form. She fashions a visual language both formal and evocative, while her eccentric, abstract structures present strong polarities, focusing on the interactions between organic and geometric, balance and imbalance, intimate and remote. They play with movement and chance; doubt, discomfort and desire. As a process of re-creation, the material rehabilitates and reinvents itself to become rediscovered by the viewer and interacts with them in a new way. While exploring the many possibilities the sculpture itself can hold, all these elements combined act as a barometer for lived experiences. Sterritt hopes the viewer will find the imagery of her work both new and familiar as they interact with the pieces.

Completed in 2017, and recently added to MOAH’s permanent collection, NatureNurtureNucleus was constructed in Sterritt’s signature mix of organic and inorganic materials. When approaching the sculpture from an engineering standpoint, one starts to see the structure within. Dried cactus and an agave stump, combined with the use of plastic and expanding foam, call to mind industrial architecture. The cactus at the base of the sculpture, which appears birdlike in form, is combined with industrial materials to mimic the look of a concrete support beam. As the eye moves upward, the sculpture becomes reminiscent of a tree; a natural structure. This illustrates the ways that support and structure are present both in manmade structures, as well as organic bodies. All the materials combined create a truly striking figure. This sculpture serves as a lens, through which viewers can see the ways that nature and the artificial (nurture) are not always in opposition. At once natural, yet constructed, NatureNurtureNucleus invites the viewer to explore the way that nature and manufactured objects can come together into something new.

Coleen Sterritt was born in Morris, Illinois. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Fine Art from Otis Art Institute, Los Angeles. She began her teaching career in 1983, taking positions at Otis College of Art and Design, University of Southern California and Claremont Graduate University. She has been a professor and the faculty coordinator of the sculpture program at Long Beach City College since 1998. Sterritt was named a John Simon Guggenheim Fellow in 2016, Sterritt has received other awards and fellowships including: the National Endowment for the Arts (1986), the Roswell Artist-in-Residence Program (1994), Art Matters, Inc. (1994), the J.Paul Getty Trust Fund for the Visual Arts /California Community Foundation (1996) and the COLA (City of Los Angeles) Individual Artist Fellowship in 2007. In 2019 she received the Outstanding Educator Award from the International Sculpture Center.