"My sculpture reflects a fusion of science
and nature. I work with various materials in which certain aesthetic
"problems" of objects in space and their relationships with each other
are somehow solved through a non-linear equation process called art."
"When I am flameworking, the exciting challenge
is to morph this linear piece of borosilicate glass through a molten state
to create an organic, color-rich expression of my nature-inspired vision."
For more than 50 years, Robert Bornn,
California and Pacific Northwest artist, has created multimedia
and mixed media
art. He has produced
wide variety of sculpture, large
and photographic work.
As a musician and filmmaker he has released
six albums and seven experimental films.
"Much of my inspiration in creating sculpture
was from Alexander Calder. My
first fabric environments were inspired by Buckminster
Fuller's domes and Frei Otto's tensioned structures. As a young
man in Nova Scotia in the late 60's I challenged myself to create outdoor,
fabric habitats for alternative living that would be compatible with my
artistic nature and love of the outdoors."
Robert's artistry with rock stems in part
from his years on Deer Island in coastal Maine, where he developed an eye
for rocks with "character." He founded an alternative residential
artist's community on a nearby island that he purchased in the '70s.
This island was home to the world's largest granite quarries of yesteryear.
During this period he learned to work with granite, steel and non-ferrous
metals, driftwood, moss, and other natural elements on the island.
As he struggled for year-round survival in this rugged environment, he
was also deeply affected in his art by themes connecting humankind and
nature. Robert's art celebrates his profound respect for the miracle of
human participation in nature through perception, consciousness, imagination,
and creative action.
"From the beginning of my career as an
artist, I have been fascinated by the ways in which the observer could
become one with the observed. My early work was directed toward the
viewer participating in creating the art, as in the 1969 'contemplation
environment' at the Museum of Contemporary Crafts in New York City."
This contemplation environment was a free-form, tensioned fabric and acrylic
environment in which people were totally “immersed” and
all lighting and sound were controlled by the visitors’ heart beats, respiration,
and galvanic skin response.
Robert also built and exhibited Biosis,
at the San Francisco Exploratorium in 1980. In Biosis he emulated multi-channel
biofeedback to show how people with special needs could gain greater functionality.
Robert's experience with other media, his
general artistry, and his other talents all enrich his sculptural expressions
combining visual, aural, and kinesthetic elements. He has enjoyed
more than four decades as a mixed media and multimedia artist, creating
fabric and light environments, sculpture, film, and photographic and videographic
images. In 1975 he founded the Island Gallery in Camden, Maine to
market his works. In 1978 the stock photo agency, Image Bank (New
York City) began representing him.
In 2017 Robert launched his on-line InsculptaGlass
gallery at Etsy to show his borosilicate miniature abstract glass art.
He also has been a musician for more than
50 years and for more than 12 years was the artistic and founding director
DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam),
a performing group which included musicians from the mid-peninsula and
wider San Francisco Bay Area (CD
and samples available).
Robert utilizes his expertise in psychophysiology
as a health care product inventor. As a seasoned entrepreneur, he
professionally mentors other
entrepreneurs and inventors.
SCULPTURE AND ENVIRONMENTS
Robert's sculptural work surprises and
delights by finding dynamic grace in the unlikely. These organic
and sometimes kinetic, sometimes whimsical, forms are evocative of Calder.
Robert's sculptures are unique in that
they are not primarily created through the reduction of materials.
Instead, he mostly uses an additive process to create large expressions
from minimal forms. He assembles rock, metal, fiber, water, light,
and other elements. Bringing together "personalities" of textures,
forms and colors results in a "sculpture community" in which each part
has a voice contributing to a greater single voice. Robert identifies
and gathers materials with character and sculpts them with boldness, daring,
and respect for nature. As he has said, "My artistic strategy is
to combine 'hunting and gathering' with flights of the spirit and fancy."
He terms this approach "Gestalt sculpture."
Robert combines his artistic style with
expertise in pyschophysiology to create vibrant living sculpture.
"My sculpture emerges from the artistic process, often without logical
preconception. The process is an ideal opportunity to blend my non-linear
thinking with my formal study and inventions in pyschophysiology."
These assemblages embody eternity by combining firelight (or electric light)
with stone, copper, and cascading water. Their interiors are striking
Series. These large
scale, interior or exterior installations are unique environments for contemplation,
work, living, or entertainment.
Series. In this series,
both abstract and representational forms are shown. Using copper
wire (as in "line-drawing") with stone elements, minimalist representations
of sentiment and commentary are expressed.
also add warmth with points of flickering candlelight. Choice of
materials and the interactions between them create and release dramatic
tension through free and tensed movement. Common to all of the
sculptures is a single, continuous piece of wire representing the common
thread that connects humanity.
Series. In this living
sculpture series the style is termed "enchanted naturalism." These
kinetic environments use the elements of stone, moving water, plants, sound,
and light. The intention with each WaterPeace environment
is to provide experiential islands of calm in the whirlwinds of modern
SELECTED SCULPTURE AND ENVIRONMENTS
Museum of Contemporary Crafts, New York
City, 1969. Created an installation in the Contemplation
Environments exhibition. It was a free-form, tensioned fabric
and acrylic environment in which people were totally “immersed.”
The guide and visitors' heart beats, respiration, and galvanic skin response
controlled all lighting and sound.
Exploratorium, San Francisco, 1980.
(biosignaling imaging system) installation. It was both an artistic
and educational expression of glass, acrylic, and fiberoptic lighting emulating
multi-channel biofeedback. Biosis derived from his professional work
in the field of psychophysiology.
Private Installation, Los Altos, 1994.
Designed and installed a tensioned fabric workspace environment and outdoor
Private Installation, Menlo Park, 1996.
and installed a tensioned fabric sound studio and domed porch structure.
Windy Hill Arts Faire, Portola Valley,
CA, 1998. Created an "entertainment
environment" consisting of a tensioned fabric enclosure around a wooded
glen, graced with a WaterPeace
installation. This setting
provided an intimate natural stage for musical performances.
Haven Media Studio, Menlo Park, CA,
1998. Performed and produced Pangaea:
Old World, New Visionstm, a music CD
by DIAJ (Drummers in a Jam).
Pangaea features Robert Bornn, Laura Worth, and Ma Boukaka, Congolese musician
and entertainer, with other San Francisco Bay Area musicians. The
Pangaea album contains original,
music. The CD was released in 1998.
Haven Media Studio, Menlo Park, CA,
1999. Created an indoor
and fish pond within a free-form, tensioned fabric environment.
Commissioned Work, Heather Heights Estate,
Saratoga, CA, 2000. Designed and built a large-scale
on this estate. This featured an 8-foot waterfall, 6,000 gallon pond,
and stepping stones to a meditation island. Also exhibited were the CenterPeace,
Future, and Community installations. The CenterPeace
sculpture from the WaterHearth series, features water cascading
from a freestanding copper spiral into a hearth of rose quartz, surrounded
by a labyrinth of Connecticut Bluestone. Future
featured streams of water shooting across space and running down upright
stone slabs. Community
was a low-profile, kinetic assemblage. The HumanNature figurative,
I, was playfully sprayed by the water stream in Community.
"Summer Fair," Mendocino, CA,
2002. Exhibited selected works from his HumanNature
within a freeform, tensioned fabric installation.
"Art in the Garden," Mendocino Coast
Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg, CA, 2002. Exhibited selected works
from his WaterHearth
series within a free-form, tensioned, fabric installation.
Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, CA,
2002-2003. As an artist in residence, Robert exhibited selected
works from his WaterHearth series, including
(created from rose quartz, ceramic, and copper tubing) and Origins
(a five foot high water feature created from thin slabs of Bluestone and
river rock, rose quartz, and copper tubing with interior lighting).
From the HumanNature series he exhibited Olluminaire
at MAC. Also exhibited were MonoMuddo
(created from lake bottom mud and copper wire), Balance,
(a kinetic study in rock and copper wire), and Assets
(an assemblage of river rock, rose quartz, and copper wire),
all from the HumanNature series.
Ford House (Museum), Mendocino, CA,
2003. Exhibited Assets
(two rock and copper wire pieces from the HumanNature
Commissioned Work, Casa del Mar Estate,
Caspar, CA, 2003. Designed and built a large-scale, ferrocement
on this estate.
Oshonia, is a ferrocement, sea stack-like "grotto,"
measuring approximately 18' L x 8' W x 8' H. It is complemented by
natural plant growth and Robert's copper and stone Assets
I, Inspiration III, Table-by-the-Sea, and Pelican Descending. from
series. Also, currently on exhibit at Casa del Mar
(a ferrocement, scallop shell-like, covered garden bench and wind
break, measuring approximately 6' H x 8' L x 5' W) from the Environments
(a five foot high water feature created from thin slabs of Bluestone and
river rock, rose quartz, and copper tubing with interior lighting) from
Seadrift Haven, Caspar, CA, 2003.
Designed and built the Seadrift Haven sculpture garden including the Catcher
Inspirations , and SnailLynx
(all from the HumanNature
series). Also exhibited were HeartLight
series. The sculpture garden featured
a large-scale, tensioned fabric installation weaving through the trees.
approximately 75' L x 5' H.
Mendocino Blooming, Jughandle Creek
Farm, Caspar, CA, 2003. Designed and built a tensioned fabric
installation, serving as a gateway
to Mendocino Blooming, an annual music festival. These three shapes
were from 50 sq.ft. to 500 sq.ft.
Blue Heron Art Center, Vashon Island,
WA, 2004. Exhibited
from the Human Nature Series.
Burton, Vashon Island, WA, 2006 - current.
Private installations, indoor-outdoor sculpture garden designed and built
with pieces from the Human
Nature Series and Insculpta
Heron's Nest Gallery, Vashon Island,
2018-2019 (gallery closed 2019). Exhibited Robert's borosilicae
Glass art miniatures.
InsculptaGlass gallery, Etsy, 2017-
current. Borosilicate glass art miniatures exhibited at Robert's
Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Island,
2019. Exhibited abstract,
miniature, borosilicate glass sculpture at Robert's show, From the
B.A., Psychology, 1971, Bensalem College,
Fordham University, New York, NY
Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY.