Ronna Neuenschwander

Artist statement

I am a collector of the broken—of stories, objects, memories. I fabricate sculptures that create intimate intertwined histories from my experiences and experiences of others.

My work includes mosaic--shards from pottery that was owned and broken by friends around the world. The hope of these people is that I can take their precious shards and give them new life. That is the intention of a maker. To create new life from scraps, material.

I learned the art of recycling by living in Mali, West Africa, where nothing is wasted. I was reminded daily that all materials can be recycled or repurposed numerous times. I was equally inspired from the work of artisans in West Africa, who also create from the detritus of others. Recycling is not a new concept. It comes from a history of survival, a culture of survival.

My new series honors the history of the figurine since humankind began. From the Venus figurines that were kept on a person’s body, hung from a neck, secreted in a pocket or placed in a niche for safekeeping, to modern day mantle ware that evokes a fabricated pristine era of propriety. Why were they made? Were they created to empower, to make fertile, to provide solace, to give status? Who did they represent? More importantly, why are they made today? Who do they represent today? These are questions I address in my recycled, repurposed and reimagined works which I create in honor of my daughters, who are the new generation of the ideal. They are a mixture of countries, religions, races, ethnicities. They are Swiss Africans, Mennonite Muslims in black and white. They are the new world.

My artwork is created from pieces that I make from raw materials combined with shards that are recycled into new life. As I become more accustomed to floating between an affluent country, and one considered ‘one of the poorest countries in the world', I see more clearly the riches and poverties of both places. Mythologies and histories, stories and memories of daily life in both homes become easier to translate into my vocabulary of imagery from my library of debris.

Ronna Neuenschwander  

Photo credit: Aaron Johanson                                                    Artist with Kolontigui

Artists Ronna Neuenschwander

  and Baba Wague Diakite 1991