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Robert Bornn at Heather Heights


Robert Bornn

"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 a wide variety of sculpture, large installations, environments, 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 of 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.

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." 

WaterHearth Series.   These assemblages embody eternity by combining firelight (or electric light) with stone, copper, and cascading water.  Their interiors are striking and evocative.

Environments Series.  These large scale, interior or exterior installations are unique environments for contemplation, work, living, or entertainment.

HumanNature 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. HumanNature candelabras 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 HumanNature wire sculptures is a single, continuous piece of wire representing the common thread that connects humanity.

WaterPeace SeriesIn 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 life. 


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. Built and exhibited Biosis (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 mobiles.

Private Installation, Menlo Park, 1996. Designed 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, African-Inspired, California-Growntmworld music. The CD was released in 1998.

Haven Media Studio, Menlo Park, CA, 1999.  Created an indoor WaterPeace waterfall and fish pond within a free-form, tensioned fabric environment.

Commissioned Work, Heather Heights Estate, Saratoga, CA, 2000.  Designed and built a large-scale WaterPeace environment 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, Critter I, was playfully sprayed by the water stream in Community

"Summer Fair," Mendocino, CA,  2002.  Exhibited selected works from his HumanNature series within a freeform, tensioned fabric installation.

"Art in the Garden," Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg, CA, 2002.  Exhibited selected works from his WaterHearth and HumanNature 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 RoseHearth (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 I, (an assemblage of river rock, rose quartz, and copper wire), all from the HumanNature series. 

Ford House (Museum), Mendocino, CA, 2003.  Exhibited Assets I and Balance (two rock and copper wire pieces from the HumanNature series).

Commissioned Work, Casa del Mar Estate, Caspar, CA, 2003.  Designed and built a large-scale, ferrocement installation, Oshonia 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 II,Orbit I, Inspiration III, Table-by-the-Sea, and Pelican Descending. from the HumanNature series. Also, currently on exhibit at Casa del Mar are Ocetus (a  ferrocement, scallop shell-like, covered garden bench and wind break, measuring approximately 6' H  x 8' L x 5' W) from the Environments series 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 WaterHearth series.

Seadrift Haven, Caspar, CA, 2003.  Designed and built the Seadrift Haven sculpture garden including the Catcher (-in-the-rye), New Inspirations , and SnailLynx (all from the HumanNature series). Also exhibited were HeartLight and RoseHearth from the WaterHearth series.  The sculpture garden featured SeaDrift, a large-scale, tensioned fabric installation weaving through the trees. Seadrift measured 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 ProtoHuman 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 Glass.

Heron's Nest Gallery, Vashon Island, 2018-2019 (gallery closed 2019).  Exhibited Robert's borosilicae Insculpta Glass art miniatures.

InsculptaGlass gallery, Etsy, 2017- current.  Borosilicate glass art miniatures exhibited at Robert's on-line  InsculptaGlass gallery.

Vashon Center for the Arts, Vashon Island, 2019. Exhibited abstract, miniature, borosilicate glass sculpture at Robert's show, From the Earth.

B.A., Psychology, 1971, Bensalem College, Fordham University, New York, NY
Stuyvesant High School, New York, NY.

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Robert Bornn and Laura Worth
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