November 2, 2012
Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis earlier this year featured athletic prowess and classic gridiron toughness with a little speed and finesse. But also on display outside the stadium throughout the heart of downtown was a combination of strength and artistic flair that only a metal art sculpture can provide.
Super Bowl XLVI at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis pitted the New York Giants against the New England Patriots and featured a display of athletic prowess and classic gridiron toughness with a little speed and finesse. But also on display outside the stadium and throughout the heart of downtown Indianapolis was a combination of strength and artistic flair that only a metal art sculpture can provide.
Metal art, like football or any other form of athletic expression, can be a contradiction of sorts. On one hand is strength, on the other is grace. Both have a hard-nosed quality, yet when refined, they possess a certain beauty.
Joanie Drizin of Noblesville, Ind., knows this contradiction all too well. In the past viewers of her metal art assumed that the arduous task of manipulating such a tough material was obviously a guy’s handiwork.
“I used to do art fairs with my ex-husband and everyone assumed that he did the work. I don’t know why. It doesn’t look like a guy does the work! So I had to do something to make people aware that it was a woman doing the work. I thought it was kind of girly,” Drizin said.
Hence the reason she came up with the name “Girly Steel.” With heavy influences from nature, many of Drizin’s sculptures are in fact, well, girly. She loves creating sculptures that not only enhance a landscape’s appearance, but also provide a marked contrast to its surroundings. Coincidentally, though, her pieces at times, because of her use of color, blend into their surroundings and almost appear as if they belong.
“I try to mimic nature and change it up a little.”
But there’s nothing girly about how she constructs her Girly sculptures. A commercial artist by trade, Drizin was immersed in pottery when she was first introduced to metal art at the Indianapolis Art Center.
“Once I started with metal, that was it for me. I started selling off all of my pottery equipment and buying metalworking equipment. I worked out of my garage for five years before I got a studio. It took off pretty quickly.”
Never one to shy away from hard work, Drizin attributes that and her love of playing with fire to the success she’s had in metal art. Two gas metal arc welding machines, two plasma cutting units, and an oxyacetylene setup—for heating and bending—form the barebones of a pretty basic workshop, but one that affords her everything she needs.
Not Your Typical Lombardi Trophy
When planning got under way to beautify downtown Indianapolis in preparation for hosting the Super Bowl, Drizin was contacted by the Brickman Group, a landscaping firm, to construct metal sculptures to appear in 20 select plant containers. The idea was simple—create 20 replica sculptures of the Lombardi Trophy, football’s Holy Grail, but with a little flair.
“They said I could do five designs and repeat them. Once I started doing them, I just kept coming up with new designs, so they let me do what I wanted to do.”
Once the designs were complete—she came up with 16 original designs and repeated designs for the final four sculptures—Drizin cut sheet metal to form the ball and cut out each of the different designs using a plasma cutter. Recycled rebar held the ball in place, while old brake rotors served as the base of the sculpture. The trophies then were installed into the planters and placed around the downtown area.
The residual effects from the project turned a spotlight on Drizin’s abilities, but to her it was just another opportunity to feed her insatiable desire to create art with metal. Even so, she is grateful that she is at a point in her life where she has the ability to focus on metal art full-time. And it’s a good thing, too, because no matter what else is going on, she can’t seem to get enough.
“I can’t seem to stop. I love what I do. I like to do it all, and when I can’t get in my shop to work, I feel like I’m going through withdrawal.
“It’s taken me 16 years to get to this point. It’s a lot of hard work.”
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