Sacred Geometry: Jessica Bodner’s Sculptural Creations
A Montana artisan creates chandeliers and sculptures influenced by nature’s symmetry
For Jessica Bodner, commuting to work means taking a short stroll from the front door of her house to her art studio. Rather than navigating traffic jams or juggling callbacks on her mobile phone, she might pause to watch the mule deer bedded down near the stream or listen to the trill of a Western meadowlark. She relishes the changing light as the sun rises behind the Absaroka Mountains in Montana’s aptly named Paradise Valley.
All this informs her work, contributing directly to the way she incorporates “sacred geometry” into her chandeliers and sculpture. Inspired by patterns in nature, Bodner expresses herself in both ageless and whimsical forms. Working with light and shadow, her chandeliers call to mind the rings of Saturn, beehives, blossoms and branches. Her sculpture draws upon repeating patterns such as symmetries, spirals, waves, cracks and stripes.
“Everything in nature has a symmetry, and I’m drawn to these patterns,” she explains.
Housed in a former airplane hangar, her Montana workshop facilitates the grueling process of creating and engineering the large-scale metal sculptures and lighting that have become her signature body of work. Producing between 10 and 20 original works each year, Bodner currently is focused on creating custom commissioned pieces for permanent collections and public spaces, as well as large-scale sculpture.
A custom-designed 12-foot-long “Night Vision” chandelier hangs in the atrium of the Temple Emanu in Redlands, California.
Generally, Bodner begins her process with a scale drawing to show the ratio and proportion of an idea. From there she creates a scale model to further define the appropriate symmetry, especially for hanging pieces. The model helps determine what type of template, pattern or jig she needs to construct to move on to the next step. If it’s a production piece, she’ll make a prototype of the full-sized work and collaborate with a manufacturer to reproduce it accurately. Otherwise, she works alone, utilizing a hoist, cranes, scaffolding and a tractor fitted with forks to move the bigger pieces onto palettes and a truck for shipping.
When lit, a “Starweave” sconce sends fractal shadows that add depth and beauty to any space.
Born in Chicago, Bodner was raised by her artist parents. Her formal art education began with a scholarship to the Academy of Art High School in Chicago. She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco and then earned a fine art degree at the Academy of Art University. Along the way she discovered a love of sculpture and studied engineering, welding and blacksmithing to hone her skills.
An installation from Bodner’s “Beehive Series” hangs in the Hyatt Hotel in Bellvue, Washington, and brings organic beauty to the lobby.
Although much of her work is installed in urban settings, Bodner prefers to be in the country. She splits her time between Montana and Maui, where the environment inspires design. In turn, light sculptures that hang at the Hyatt in Bellingham, Washington, and at the Ronald McDonald House in Dallas, Texas, infuse natural serenity in these institutional spaces.
Her freestanding metal sculpture “Hale Konon” honors Northern California’s native roots as a part of the Hunters Point Shipyard redevelopment project. All her work echoes the wild places that feed her creativity.