Glittery gold nail polish shimmers. Angie Seykora’s hands move animatedly as she talks about a sculpture made out of smooth flagging tape. Beat-up and worn-out, Seykora’s hands are her most important tool.
These same hands twist, weave, and roll everyday material into works of art.
In one photo, a roll of black plastic static intercept sheeting wraps around her like a glossy snake. Seykora, dressed in the same color, blends in with her soon-to-be-creation. Wearing black gloves, she molds and shapes it. She cuts the sheeting into hundreds of strips, constructing it with zip ties and metal chains. The final piece, which is for a solo exhibition at the Union for Contemporary Art, suspends from the ceiling all the way to the floor like a cascade of midnight.
“I don’t need elaborate facilities, just my hands and scissors,” Seykora says. “And space and time. Time is invaluable.”
Seykora felt the art itch as a child growing up in Minnesota and later South Dakota. Her mother sewed dresses for her. She watched her father saw, hammer, and drill in his woodworking shop. It was a mag- ical place. Four-year-old Seykora would draw circles with different faces and scrawl phrases, like “All people are important,” across the paper. “Making” offered a safety net during high school, and she spent any extra time in the art room, where she dis- covered like-minded individuals.
It was a hobby, a way to express herself, and Seykora didn’t think of it as a career when she attended Creighton University. One fatal drive would shift Seykora’s priorities. A drunk driver passed out, flew over the median, and hit Seykora’s vehicle in a head-on collision.
A broken left wrist. Torn ligaments. Aching bruises.
Conscious, Seykora was aware of the pain. She doesn’t dwell on it now. It was just something that happened. Yet, it was life-affirming. The accident made Seykora realize she could no longer suppress her talents and deepest desires because of societal expectations.
“I trusted my intuition, which is still a part of my studio practice,” Seykora says.
Seykora switched majors several times before settling on a Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in sculpture and a minor in business.
Sculpture, a once male-dominated art form, inspired Seykora in ways she never knew existed. She woke up to a world of creative possibilities. Space, light, and senses merged into making something out of nothing. Littleton Alston, a Creighton art professor, saw grittiness and greatness from the young artist who stepped up to any challenge he threw at her.
“She was a once-in-a-lifetime student,” Alston recalls. “Art is a deeper search for meaning of what it is to be human. Angie did that.”
She continued on to graduate school at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Master of Fine Arts. The International Sculpture Center bestowed a rare Outstanding Student Achievement in Contemporary Sculpture award, which earned Seykora a residency in St. Urban, Switzerland, for two months during the summer of 2014. She returned in 2015. It allowed Seykora to experiment with material not readily available in the United States.
Seykora, now 30, is an adjunct instructor at Creighton University, teaching 3D foundations and sculpture. Plus, Seykora mentors at Kent Bellows art program at Joslyn, and she has a part-time job in retail.
But the bulk of her time is spent in her studio practice, dropping by each day in order to “exist in the same world” as her material. She is constantly on the lookout for various items. Discarded “trash” from friends, salvage yards, and second-hand stores become her artistic treasure. Electrical tape, plastic wrap, and vinyl have been transformed into stunning displays of talent.
“She is one of the most exciting contemporary artists in Nebraska,” says Launa Bacon, director of Darger HQ. The gallery hosted Seykora’ work, along with artist Ying Zhu, in an exhibition titled Lines Forming (on display through Jan. 7).
Seykora found a pink artificial Christmas tree in a dumpster. She is in the process of cutting needles off the branches and stems. The remaining wire is wrapped around a metal grid. Although a sculptural object, it is a gray area between contemporary sculpture and “painting.”
“This is a timely and meditatively engaged way of making,” Seykora says.
Much of her work is a time-consuming, sophisticated process. One conceptual sculpture, Flesh, took almost a year to finish. But it is Seykora’s way of creating her own world.
“Art is something I always have control over,” she says playing with her gold cage-like grid earrings. “My work is a direct reflection of my life.”
Transformation is the most powerful thing about art. Seykora hopes when someone sees her work that the conversation will not end. Don’t dismiss. Engage. Look closer.
Visit angieseykora.com for more information.
This article was printed in the January/February 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine.