Proving that bigger is better but in ways you wouldn’t expect, Monica Wyatt makes monumental bronze sculptures seem intimate. She exploits the medium’s heroic tradition. Monumental, heroic, and ceremonial. She avails herself of the material’s association with historic and metaphysical themes. Think, for instance, of Auguste Rodin’s iconic “Burghers of Calais” and “The Thinker.” Bronze is permanent, if not timeless. It’s got physical and emotional heft. It creates space and then displaces it. Like a cycle of life, it begins with a human touch. Then it’s consigned to heat or some other trial by fire. Once cooled it acquires experience. Its surface shows its age with grace over time.
Her work seems large. It’s not. That’s because we associate bronze sculptures with bigger-than-life themes. Her themes, no less heroic, are domestic and intimate. Onto these sensuous and tactile pieces she ascribes fully developed emotions. One shows a mother as she plays with a child. As if Henry Moore made a pieta. Another shows parents stooped over to listen to a child. As if Hans Arp made a family portrait. Wyatt comes from a TV production and directing background. Unlike TV, sculpture gives her the liberty to create rounded narrative vignettes. Each viewing angle contributes to the narrative. Each piece communicates from all sides. Her work hinges on relationships between mother and child, father and child, and groups of friends and family. The space she creates is spacious and cozy, expansive and accommodating. Wyatt’s work offers a permanent record of the things we take for granted. It’s heroic in the sense that parenting and friendship are heroic. Each piece creates its own intimacy. Monumental sculptures commemorate something already done. Wyatt’s create and then confirm their various miraculous, everyday deeds. Hers is an extraordinary body of work. It confirms that the greatest events are the ones that history overlooks. One or both parents care for a child. A trio of sisters talks on a bench. A friend shares a secret with another friend. Her work shows that these are the things that we need to preserve for posterity. Anonymous and unassuming people as they do whatever it is that makes them human. That's what this work is about. James Scarborough is an art, theatre, and film critic. He’s a former member of the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle. He studied art history at Berkeley and the Courtauld Institute at the University of London and has published essays and art criticism for such publications as Apollo, Frieze, Art in America, Flash Art, art+text, New Art Examiner, Art Monthly, and Art Press and has written numerous exhibition catalogue essays and for The Huffington Post.