For the past four decades, artists cast bronze sculptures at the Bright Foundry in the Butchertown neighborhood. Several notable artists — like sculptors Ed Hamilton and Dawn Yates — passed through the Foundry’s doors and as a result it became recognized as an informal arts institution.
But after the Foundry’s founder went into retirement earlier this year, the building and all its equipment went on the market. Its future was uncertain until three Foundry employees — Matt Weir, Tamina Karem and Scott Boyer — purchased the equipment. Now, they’re carrying on the legacy at a new facility in Portland.
The venture will also have a new name — the Falls Art Foundry.
I spoke with the three artists about how the Foundry’s legacy of technical art furthers the national STEAM initiative, and its communal benefits for local sculptors. Listen to our conversation in the audio player above.
Weir on how The Foundry model teaches artists:
“I’ve always felt that a default attribute of The Foundry was that it was kind of this informal institution. You just are naturally taught all of these different things, all of these different materials, have these incredibly diverse conversations not with people just based on process — but it’s also meeting artists and having these conversations.”
Boyer on how a knowledge of technical arts is marketable:
“We go to college — if you’re lucky — and there’s almost no avenue. We’re losing all our experience just working with our hands. It’s hard to even find. It’s something even mechanics complain about; we have these engineers who don’t know how to actually work with their hands. They are losing a grasp with the physical world, and that’s always been my interest in sculpture.”
Karem on how working with a group of sculptors is beneficial:
“I’m looking forward to having a place where we do have a community of sculptors. I think we are isolated a lot of the time just based on what we do because we work alone, we think alone most of the time about what our next projects are. If you start thinking about a piece more as something like, ‘I’m going to cast this in bronze,’ then you start interacting with other people to think about the process.
“And form follows function so you end up creating things that are more conducive to the process that you’re working towards and I think that is important.”