“I have always been intrigued by the beauty, flow and
elasticity of the human body. To see a figure
bend, stretch, pull and twist is a true wonder of nature
that has always stimulated my imagination.”
- Don Wilks
Don Wilks has sought to interpret the beauty of modern dance and classical ballet through sculptural form. In addition to portraying the traditional ballerina, Wilks captures the angularity of thrust limbs inspired by Cirque du Soleil’s acrobatic dancers.
During 1965 Wilks began sculpting under the guidance of Peter Pacquette who taught the techniques of working with clay, wax and metal as well as soldering and shaping rigid materials. Subsequently Wilks studied with Frank Eliscu, a world renown sculptor who in 1935 designed the Heisman Trophy as well many monumental bronzes that are part of New York’s cultural urban landscape and the 1974 Inaugural medals for President Gerald R. Ford and Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller. The experience of working with Eliscu was life changing.
Wilks attended Boston’s Museum Of Fine Arts school. During 2000, he worked under the inspirational guidance of New England artist Pablo Eduardo.
The body in action and interaction is the primary force that drives his vision. Wilks is a member of the prestigious National Sculpture Society. As the result he continually works on new techniques including a new collection of glass pieces. His work has been cast at the world-renowned Bronzart foundry in Sarasota, FL. The cast editions are extremely rare in limited quantities of 12 to assure that the detail of each piece is properly rendered.
The Lost Wax technique of bronze casting was invented around 2500 BC by the Sumerians and most notably mastered by late nineteenth century artists such as Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas. It is achieved through a laborious sequence of stages in which the sculpture begins as a clay form morphing into bronze, all through the meticulous use of molds. First a rubber mold is formed around the clay, picking up all the nuances of the original surface while the second stage requires molten wax to be poured into the rubber mold. At this time the rubber mold is carefully removed revealing the wax core, which then is carefully rendered to have the same exact detailing as the original clay design. Through an extensive series of dipping the wax into a prepared liquid, the external residue becomes thicker and ultimately serves as a ceramic mold when the sculpture is fired in a kiln. This is a critical point of creation where the outer shell becomes a hardened material and the wax melts out from the ceramic mold. The hollow shell becomes an ideal mold for the hot bronze liquid.
This is a tricky period as once the hot liquid is exposed to the air it begins cooling and hardening, transforming from the liquid state to a solid one. The hard external resin is then removed exposing the final bronze form. The last process is the aesthetic treatment of perfecting the patina. This is achieved by the application of chemicals, which are heated with a blowtorch. Each sculpture will have a unique patina as they are done by hand. The Lost Wax Bronze technique is a very special one. Don Wilks’ art stands above most contemporary sculptors as his work preserves the artistic integrity of Rodin and Degas.