Siri Hollander was born in New York in 1959, but her family quickly relocated to the south of Spain where they remained for most of her childhood. Siri’s earliest memories consist of riding massive Andalusian mares across the rolling hills of Andalusia, where these magnificent beasts and the land itself became her teachers.
Arguably self-taught, Siri’s unusual and wild upbringing has certainly influenced her rough and emotional sculptures. Unlike most artists, with Siri’s work perfection is never the goal. If you ask her how she knows a piece is finished she will answer simply that, “it’s a feeling.” With her acute sense of feeling, she has allowed her emotions and instincts to guide her through life, and her work. She has learned from trial and error and lets her memories and first-hand knowledge guide her through the creation of her sculptures. There was never a precise beginning to Siri Hollander’s career as an artist, it was simply a part of who she was from the beginning. She says, “When I first started it was a grand mess. I would ride around and stop by little creeks making little figures out of sticks and mud. Little by little, it got more logical, and I used more permanent materials. But it just happened.
There wasn’t much thought behind it.” Siri Hollander’s entire process started from an innate desire to work in large format but being self-taught she had to create her own system through trial and error in order to make strong, permanent pieces in a medium that would work well outdoors. She discovered that welding together a steel armature, and then adding a mixture of cement and sand she could collect in nearby riverbeds created something strong that could endure any weather. This mixture of earthy textures is also what gives Siri Hollander’s work it’s unique character and textures. Between their unique textures and the exaggerated features of each of her work is inherently abstract, however somehow this abstract feeling helps Siri’s work to take on a life-like feeling. Siri says that “It is my familiarity with the subject (horses) that make it so I can easily bring my pieces to life and have them capture the essence of the living thing.
I’ve spent many years being around horses constantly. At this point, they are more like my family than anything else.” Her use of rough textures may have been influenced by her earliest encounter with art, when Siri and her family found some ancient cave paintings in the South of Spain. The stone wall with its uneven textures and earthy pigments certainly influenced Siri at a young age. To this day Siri uses the same pigments in her original pieces (iron oxide and manganese) as those ancient cave-dwellers did in their work. These prehistoric cave paintings along with the ancient Greek and Roman masters inspire Siri Hollander every day to create art, and furthermore art that will persist throughout the passing of time. While horses are her main focus, Siri Hollander is also known for her distinct human figures. These pieces are often described as distorted and strange. However, these enigmatic representations of the human body are meant to be strange and uncomfortable in order to portray that sensation that most people have felt at least once of not being one with one’s own body. Siri Hollander explains her human figures by saying “A lot of these bodies are teen-like and are meant to portray that struggle of growing up and not really recognizing yourself at times. After raising four kids I’ve seen that interesting struggle of going from being a kid to all of a sudden not really being a kid anymore to then being a young adult many times. I find it to be such an interesting moment of limbo that we all experience, and for me my human figures represent that internal quarrel. It’s almost like seeing or feeling your mind and body be detached from one another, it’s confusing and weird.”
When you look at Siri Hollander’s human figures you certainly sense that strangeness of the human condition embodied by these figures that nearly appear as a shadow of one’s actual body. Siri Hollander incorporates a lot of shadow play into her work, representing her creations in a way that is disproportionate and yet completely recognizable. Just as your shadow is constantly with you, and you can recognize it as a part of you, with Siri’s work you can recognize the spirit of her original inspiration through its exaggerated depiction. Siri Hollander now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico where she has opened a gallery. She still works nearly every day on her art. In recent years, Siri’s priority has become placing her art in public spaces.
After growing up in Europe and being able to see great pieces of art nearly everywhere open to the public, Siri believes the ability to live with public art was a fundamental part of why she became an artist herself. Because of this, she hopes to place her pieces in public in order to help inspire young artists the way she was inspired as a child. Siri Hollander has been in the business for a long time and sees her next adventure in the art world as something more than simply creating. She hopes to inspire, teach and help others enjoy and have access to art in the ways that she had growing up.