Micro-macro, Linda Fleming’s intricate maquettes

Linda Fleming

I first saw the work of Linda Fleming last year during a site visit at the University of Wyoming Art Museum. She was among two dozen artists invited to participate in the Wyoming Sculpture Invitational.

Her Refugium took my breath away.  I’d never seen anything quite like it.  Both steely and swirly. Multiple planes of flowing lines, folding into each other. The contrast between soft lines and hard edges, organic and industrial, positive and negative space. All quintessential to her large-scale work… and to her maquettes.  (Above: Maquette for Fumerole by Linda Fleming)

Linda Fleming maquettes

For the exhibit, Modeling the Universe, the museum is displaying 60 of Fleming’s hand-crafted miniatures. Some are replicas of full-scale sculpture; others are tiny 3D records of her creative process. The exhibit also includes the full-scale version of Fumerole installed on the museum sculpture terrace. The sculpture is identical in every way to the small version used for modeling her laser-cutting specifications.

Modeling the Universe by Linda Fleming

To be frank? I didn’t fully appreciate the glut of maquettes in one room. Not at first. I felt — ugh! Each work seemed too precious to be squashed on shelves, one next to another.  Like the maquette for Fumerole, I wanted to see each on a pedestal, showcased under a spotlight.

These tiny masterpieces—their lyrical lines and organic stature, the play of light and shadow—each deserved a pedestal. You see, I’m a sucker for beauty.

It took me a few minutes before I grasped the exhibit’s significance. Here’s the artistic’s life revealed, I realized.  This visual summary of her three-decade career, informed by her diverse interests.  Earth and cosmos, humans and nature. Biology, like the flow of rivers or blood and breath.  Physics, like nebula, galaxies, the stuff of the universe. Her conceptual ideation capsulized in these exquisite moquettes.

Linda Fleming_Fumerole

Fumerole by Linda Fleming

Fumerole’s shape resembles the triangle-fold of napkin, partially opened. Both flowing and geometric, the work could easily symbolize harmonic music of the spheres (music universalis), the melodic lines seemingly wedged between measured beats of the hard-edged planes.

In her words, Fleming intends her sculpture to “provide a glimpse of the strangeness beyond the every day world; opening a place where thought becomes tangible, history leaves a trace, and information exhales form.”

The Bay-area sculpture teaches at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland, and maintains studios in San Francisco, Nevada and Colorado. Her impressive exhibit history includes solo exhibits at Lemmons Contemporary in New York, Sonoma Valley Museum of Art and Brian Gross Fine Art in California and Linda Durham Contemporary in New Mexico.