Mortal Coil
by Michelle Holzapfel


Artist/Designer: Michelle Holzapfel
b. 1951, Woonsocket, RI
Title: Mortal Coil, 2008/9
Medium: Walnut, spalted maple, gold leaf, epoxy
Dimensions: 24" x 15" x 6"
Details: Unique, one-of-a-kind work, signed on back: mortal coil  2008, maple, walnut, gold, michelle holzapfel, marlboro, vermont
Notes from the Archive: Michelle Holzapfel is often inspired by the form of a piece of wood, exactly as it comes from the tree. Her process is thoughtful and curious - more one of discovery than of assertion, and her idea for a work changes even as she is creating it.  Here are her comments on the intriguing evolution of "Mortal Coil": 
The original work began in 2008, and at that time the finished work (before the snake) was titled "Maple, Walnut and Gold" (see photo below) and was exhibited in "Over the Edge, Woodturning into Sculpture" at the Pritchard Gallery, University of Idaho, (Sept - Nov 2008). Upon its return from the exhibition, Holzapfel visualized the work differently: "The frame was a large walnut limb scar, a carved and scorched exterior with a gilded interior.  Its natural form was evocative: a knob on the rim suggested a serpent’s head. The rippling interior edge evoked its underbelly. The carving moves from intaglio (recessed) at the tail’s tip to the bas-relief body, to the high-relief head. Gold leaf and epoxy create the snake's iris. The vessel: in turned spalted maple is nested within the natural void. ‘Gold’ spills from the vessel: a Midas touch. The title is taken from Hamlet’s famous soliloquy."
Turner, carver, sculptor, poet; Michelle Holzapfel is all of the these, and yet none of them. Her explorations go beyond traditions of craft and art, and result in deeply satisfying and personal works. A modern Master.
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