Using nature as the mold: Emily Budd's new bronze work 

Budd is using a reflection on her childhood and nature to understand her position as a queer artist

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It's a ridiculously hot day when I walk up to Emily Budd's combined work/living space, in a shared house on Central Avenue.

But it's cool in her space because of the air conditioner: It's also pretty cool that Budd, 36, has many of the works cast in bronze that will appear in two upcoming shows in August laid out all over the place.

There's a group show at the Stutz entitled Coming Home: 20th Anniversary of the Stutz Residency Program, featuring older work and a solo show at General Public Collective featuring her latest work entitled The Borders of Being.

Her works might resemble odd mutant flowers growing on some coral reef somewhere in the South Pacific. But then there's a piece called "Rosebush" with its spindly appendages and solid trunk, that's harder to classify.

"Rosebush" is something of a departure from Budd's previous work. Whether she's worked in a large or small scale, there's a solidity and a denseness to her bronze; some of the smaller pieces that look like crustaceans or barnacles or miniature cities the size of apricots that could be weaponized by simply throwing them in the air.  The one adjective that might not come to mind when looking at her work – until recently – is fragile.

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"So 'Rosebush' almost evocative of an animal in its torso and a plant in its appendages," Budd says of this work.

This walk up space is only half her studio, because Budd's media is bronze that she pours into molds, using the lost wax process of making bronze sculpture.  She needs the tools that are only in a foundry to do this kind of work.

"I sculpt in wax and then you have to build a ceramic shell around it, and then you have to fire that shell," she says. "So it fires in a kiln and then as the shell is setting, the wax burns out so you have this vessel in the shape of your piece."

Her day job at Sincerus Bronze Art Center allows her to moonlight, in a sense, by using their facilities for her own artwork.

Unfortunately for diehard fans of Budd's work, this may be the last opportunity for you to see it. Soon she's going to be packing her bags to start an M.F.A. program at the California College of Fine Arts in San Francisco.

It's a good thing that Budd doesn't have to pour bronze in her living space because the molten metal just might burn a hole in the ceiling, something like the creature did in Alien when it popped out of the astronaut's stomach.

While some of Budd's work reminds me of those Alien creatures, created by artist H.R. Giger, she clearly has something else in mind.

Just look at the title of her show, The Borders of Being. She's showing not only  bronze sculpture, but painted deer, raccoon and  skulls that are painted, donated to her by her family in rural Ohio.

"I'm using these antlers, these sea shells, these hard surfaces of living things, how they're used as protection, but they also last long and they become a fossil and a memory," says Budd.  " And also as creative people we make culture, and we make art but we're also from nature so where's that border?"

Budd had the opportunity to explore when writing her artist's statement:

"Growing up an outsider queer in a rural setting," she writes, "I sought my belonging in the universe through nature. I played in the woods, wandered under the night sky and through the trees, under thousands of leaves and galaxies uncounted, through cornfields and creek beds and meteor showers, both a stargazer and a daydreamer. There were times when I found myself beneath the stars breathless, simultaneously lost and found, accepting and appreciating both the enchanting beauty and ever-present danger of nature."

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