by Ken Kemp
As we wandered the massive Sculpture in the Park exhibit in Loveland Colorado this month, we stopped to ruminate over a stunning image.
The sculpture made us smile.
About 18” tall, a full-on horse stands lazily on an artistic base, relaxed and still as a young girl spreads herself across its broad back face up in an inclined position. One arm props up her head as she holds a book with the other hand. Barefoot, she reads, entranced by the words on the page. Long flowing hair spills over her propped arm and down the horse’s side. A pair of cowgirl boots wait on the ground beneath her mount. The horse appears to be as content as the young woman, her one leg bent and her foot flat on the horse’s rump to brace her in place and give her balance.
We were enchanted.
The sculptor who imagined and then fashioned this scene approached us warmly and explained, “That was my childhood fantasy – to be out there in a faraway meadow, spread out across a gentle steed barefoot, boots on the ground, absorbed in a book.”
Lori Kiplinger Pandy is an artist and storyteller. Her preferred style is “realism,” just like her friend Angela Mia de la Vega.
She says, “I push, pull, carve and manipulate clay to render my interpretations of the world around me. Using tension, balance, gesture I can relate a thought, emotion or tell a story.”
Growing up, Lori moved a lot. Her father flew fighter jets and saw combat while commanding his Phantom F4. He, along with her mother instilled in their tight-knit family a love of people and places - and a commitment to serve. Young Lori learned to make friends easily. She excelled as a gymnast and equestrian. She loved to draw. People told her she had a gift.
A voracious reader of books, Lori would have been a standout in a liberal arts college. But instead, she was drawn to the Ringling College of Art and Design. There she honed her skills as an illustrator – and found employment just after graduation.
Norman Rockwell inspired her work. She scoffed at any artist who might suggest that he was anything less than a fine artist. Not only did she admire his realism and storytelling, she learned, like him, to make dead-lines and create pieces that had value in the marketplace. She thrived for thirty years in the industry and developed a reputation for replicating the human body in her drawings, especially faces. From early childhood, she found delight in ethnic faces: African and Native American. (See her collection.)
Her sculpture work emerged from her years as an illustrator. She took an anatomy class and learned the structure of the human body; skeletal and muscle systems. The three dimensions in sculpting fascinated her. Her reading introduced her to some of the celebrated characters in history and she began to focus on sculpting their images – Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and for fun, Danny Kaye.
Today, her passion is to sculpt otherwise little-known women who have left a powerful legacy. “There are plenty of men all over the country who have been memorialized in statuary,” Lori said, “but not many women.”
Just recently, she was chosen to sculpt a life-sized image of Fanny Mae Duncan – who opened The Cotton Club during World War II in Colorado Springs. In a segregated era, she would become a pioneer African American woman who built a thriving integrated business, serving her community struggling during war time. A popular and lively jazz club, Duke Ellington, Etta James, Lionel
Hampton, Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Muddy Waters, and Count Basie all performed there. Until her death in 2005, she was known and loved as an entrepreneur, philanthropist and social activist.
It will be Lori’s first life-sized sculpture. When unveiled, it will be prominently displayed in Colorado Springs.
Lori is enthusiastic about Flite to Freedom and our emphasis on encouraging young artists to flourish.
When Lori is in her studio, she closes out interruptions and plays soft classical music through her sound system. These moments of creativity are sacred to her.
She calls these hours lost in the work of art, calling form out of a lump of clay - her prayer.
We enthusiastically welcome Lori Kiplinger Pandy to the family of Flite Artists.