By Martin Renzhofer
Ronnie Gould is never quite sure what direction her work will take until it is finished.
The Bedford sculptor is known for her ceramic animals, yet even when creating a beloved dog or zoo creature, the process retains its mysteries.
“I find, no matter what piece I’m working on, it is always a conversation between myself and the clay,” she said. “I want to honor the clay. If a piece wants to lean in a certain way, leave it be.”
The clay has its own personality, ever-changing.
Right now, Gould, who has been working in ceramics for the better part of three decades, also finds herself changing, breaking the mold and entering a different artistic conversation with her work.
Gould continues to make her award-winning animals. There are, after all, commissions to be fulfilled and money to be earned.
Political and environmental events, however, have taken Gould’s work in a new direction; this includes a piece featuring six men in a boat rowing in different directions.
“It was about the political scene and everything that’s been going on, dare I say from the [Presidential] election in 2016,” Gould said. “It has been affecting a lot of people. I’m trying to allow that part of me to surface.”
One of Gould’s latest works is called, “The Daily News,” in which a woman is crashing through a wall covered with newsprint. It will be exhibited at the Brush Art Gallery and Studios in Lowell beginning April 27 as part of a show titled, “Breaking Point.”
“It could be me or any person thrown against a wall,” she said. “We’ve been hit with so many issues, hit with things beyond our abilities to sort through and change.
“It is an undercurrent of change in my work. It is much harder to go down that avenue. It is more fulfilling.”
Gould understands the public may not like living with these new works. It’s easier to live with her animals, who, she says are “sometimes watching you.”
Still, she can’t stop this turn down a new activist avenue.
“This makes me feel more whole as an artist,” she said.
Gould began as a painter but found that working with clay was more appealing. At first, Gould tried making pots but found that she was a sculptor.
Expressing herself with clay came easy.
“I had wonderful support from people along the way,” Gould said. “I jumped in with both feet and needed to make this happen and it did. It’s been great. I put in the work and stayed dedicated and loved it.”
As a child, Gould was surrounded by art. Her mother was a commercial artist. Gould also has a sister, Ilene Richard, who is a painter.
After earning a Bachelor of Arts in art education a Westfield State College, Gould studied ceramics at the Massachusetts College of Art as well as the DeCordova Museum. It was there Gould studied with the prominent Japanese artist Makoto Yabe.
Gould’s work has since been exhibited throughout New England and nationally, as well as at SOFA Chicago and Art Toronto.
Even now, as her work changes direction, Gould’s passion remains about animals, especially dogs. They have been a large and important part of her life, starting in childhood.
“I’ve always loved animals and have grown up with dogs,” Gould said. “Their eyes get me. They have great souls, every one of them, wild or domestic.”
Not that every work is about her four-legged friends, including the two she owns.
Gould is currently finishing up a pair of snow leopards for an auction to help raise funds for Zoo New England.
Gould has also used her work to address conservation and environmental issues. On her website (Ronniegould.com), for example, she has various African animals precariously balanced on geometric columns, a concept based on a shrinking habitat.
“Right now, I’m contemplating a piece that talks about trees, honoring trees,” Gould said. “As I am getting older, I’m not as motivated to do the money part of it. It has been wonderful to get such great recognition and the awards are all wonderful.
“But part of me is reassessing. What is more important to me now? Look what is happening around us.”