Artist-in-Residence Rona Pondick makes Canadian debut

York University will host renowned American sculptor Rona Pondick as the L.L. Odette Visiting Artist from June 7 to 11. Pondick will launch her residency with a free public lecture about her recent work, on June 7 at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

“Pondick was invited because she is an exciting artist of international stature with a highly original and provocative artistic vision,” said Yvonne Singer, director of York’s Graduate Program in Visual Arts, who is organizing the residency and lecture.

Right: Rona Pondick with Dog
Photograph by Nana Watanabe

Pondick has risen to international prominence with distinctive works that incorporate unconventional materials and innovative artistic processes. Her arresting cast-metal sculptures seamlessly fuse parts of the artist’s body – teeth, hands, legs, head – with sculpted animal forms. These hybrids delve into the nature of metamorphosis, conjuring disconcerting questions in a world where genetic engineering is a reality.

In her current work, Pondick combines traditional modelling, carving and casting techniques with a groundbreaking use of digital technology. Using stereolithography (3-D layering digital technology), the artist shrinks her life casts, building miniature wax replicas of her body parts that can be as small as one inch. This leading-edge process allows her to maintain incredible detail in her works.

“Her sculptures are beautiful, strange, disturbing and fascinating,” said Margo Crutchfield, senior curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, where Pondick’s work is currently on display. “Pondick probes the recesses of the human psyche and takes on the increasingly mutable nature of human existence as we venture into the 21st century.”

Left: Rona Pondick’s stainless steel sculpture Pine Marten. Photo courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery

For the past two decades, Pondick has exhibited her work in art museums and galleries in the US, Europe, Japan, South Africa, China and Japan. She has had numerous solo exhibitions and has participated in more than 150 group shows including the Venice, Johannesburg and Lyon Biennales. Her work is found in many prestigious public collections, among them the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. She currently lives and works in New York City.

Pondick’s residency at York and her public presentation at the AGO on June 7 mark her debut on the Canadian art scene. During her visit, she will be working with 10 students enrolled in an intensive hands-on course in York’s sculpture studio, advising them on their projects, overseeing the bronze casting of their works and components of several of her own pieces in the foundry, and sharing insights into her artistic practice.

Left: Rona Pondick’s stainless steel and modacrylic hair sculpture Monkey with Hair. Photo courtesy of Sonnabend Gallery


“Her residency offers students a unique opportunity to learn about her work in a masterclass situation”, said Singer. “We are extremely fortunate to have her in the foundry workshop at York University.”

The L.L. Odette Centre for Sculpture at York is named in honour of its major benefactor, Toronto businessman and philanthropist Louis L. Odette. The centre houses a state-of-the-art ceramic shell lost wax bronze foundry with additional facilities for bonded sand casting.

Pondick’s artist-in-residency is made possible through the generous support of Odette, who is the founder of the Toronto Sculpture Garden and a longstanding friend of the Faculty of Fine Arts at York. This is the third year of the L.L. Odette Artist-in-Residency program at York.

Pondick’s public talk will take place on Monday, June 7, at 7pm in the Education Theatre at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. West. Admission is free.