Clarence

Sculptor Vicki Banks

One-of-a-Kind Bronzes

Cell: (818) 720-0080
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After 20 years in the animation business, sculptor Vicki Banks knows how to bring a character to life in subtle ways. She captures fleeting moments in their lives; a sunning vulture, begging baby birds, or curious crows having their way with an antique typewriter. Vicki loves the permanency of bronze, its range of colors and textures. Each piece is lovingly detailed until it is just right, then matched to its own individual base, making every sculpture unique.

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Sculptor Vicki Banks

Vicki's work is currently featured as part of the Birds in Art 2014 show at the Woodson Art Museum.
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You may not think of vultures as creatures of elegant beauty, but Vicki Banks does.  It is her ability to see character and charm in some of the most unconventional subjects that sets this sculptor apart. Her menagerie includes vultures, crows, cats, iguanas, and other animals sculpted in bronze "caught in the act" moments from their fascinating lives.

Because every piece Vicki creates is truly one-of-a-kind, much of the work pictured on this website has already been sold. However, if you fall in love with a piece you see here, Vicki can make a similar and yet unique sculpture just for you.


*** Click here to read Vicki's interview on FLIP! ***

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Grace

 

It’s Only Natural

A lover of animals from an early age, Vicki spent many of her childhood afternoons developing expert lizard-catching abilities.  Hold her bronze horned lizard in your palm and feel something of that youthful curiosity, the satisfaction at having caught your quarry.  That little girl’s enthusiasm for the wild world did not dwindle as she grew older; instead it expanded to include not just the creatures in her backyard, but those of such far-off locales as Panama, the rainforests of South America, the Serengeti of Africa, and the islands of the Galapagos.  Indeed, she continues to discover and develop new passions: crows and ravens, only a relatively recent addition to her repertoire, now seem to have flocked to her booth en masse where they appear to chatter animatedly amongst themselves.

 

An Animated Life

This lifelike quality of her work is no accident.  After twenty years in the animation industry, Vicki really knows how to bring a character to life in subtle ways.  For her, the sculpture process is more about capturing a gesture than detailing every last feather or scale.  Though they are cast in a medium as permanent as bronze, her sculptures appear far from static.  She imbues her work, too, with an animator’s sense of humor, one honed at — among other places — Walt Disney Studios, DreamWorks, and Warner Brothers.  You can see it in the smiles that grace the faces of so many of her subjects: in the whimsy of a flying pig or a bossy baboon with her hands on her hips; and, indeed, in the placement of a roadrunner atop antique truck horns, with the title “Beep! Beep!”  You might be tempted to glance around for a coyote holding some ACME-brand dynamite in his paws.

Caw Caw Phony
Caw Caw Phony

 
Sculptor Vicki Banks

From Wax To Bronze

All of Vicki’s sculptures are cast in bronze.  The entire process is labor intensive and spans several stages.  Every sculpture begins with an idea.  Vicki spends time sketching — from live models or video footage — her subjects, getting a feel for their personalities, the way they move.  Once Vicki has a design in mind, she will sometimes construct an armature out of wire in the general shape and pose of the sculpture-to-be.  Whether using an armature or not, she will then begin to build the sculpture with warmed, soft, dark brown wax — teasing life out of the malleable material.  Once she is satisfied with her creation, the next step is making a silicone mold from which all future versions of the sculpture can be made.

These new sculptures are “versions” because each new wax that’s poured is then changed, sometimes significantly, to tell a different story as the creature interacts with its new base.  This new wax version is coated in liquid sand and heated.  The sand fuses, a ceramic shell is formed, and the wax melts out through a small opening in the bottom.  Next, molten bronze is poured into the ceramic shell.  Once the bronze has cooled and hardened, the shell is broken off.  The process is known as the “lost wax technique.”  Raw bronze is a pale dull material; to achieve the colors you see in her work — the burnt oranges and reds on the marine iguana, the inky black of the crows — Vicki applies chemical patinas in various combinations that react with the metal in different ways.

Call It “Up-Cycling”

Like the crows she loves to sculpt — notorious for collecting shiny trinkets — Vicki is a collector of unique and unusual objects that catch her fancy.  These found pieces she then incorporates into her art: a marine iguana luxuriates on a carved stone wheel from India; the wheel of an old coffee grinder becomes the perfect perch for a curious crow; a fence post from a ranch in Mexico provides the perfect vantage point for a sunning turkey vulture.  You could call it “up-cycling” — taking something old or discarded, and giving it new value, new life.

Ironsides
Old Ironsides

Marine Iguana
Lounge Lizard

Current Projects

Currently creating a life-size bronze Harpy Eagle for Zoo Miami

 

Collectors

Public Art, Project Ocean Springs (P.A.P.O.S.)
John Cleese, actor
Brad Garrett, actor
Hal Linden, actor
The Captain and Tennille, musicians
Roslyn Sumner, Olympic figure skater
Christy Yamaguchi, Olympic figure skater
Jef Billings, Olympic and Stars On Ice costume designer
Alain Bernheim, screenwriter
Wolfgang Puck, chef
Barbara Lazaroff, original Wolfgang Puck restaurant designer
Susan Gottlieb, board of directors of the Friends of the Ballona Wetland; board member of Audubon CA, and a member of the President’s advisory council of National Wildlife Federation
Set decoration for “Weeds” Showtime series
Set decoration for upcoming Disney pilot

 

Stephanie
Stephanie

Harpy Eagle by Vicki Banks

Here's Lookin' At You Owl
Here's Lookin' At You

 

Originally trained as a sculptor, Vicki returned to her first love and now exhibits in art shows and galleries throughout California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Idaho, and the East Coast. She lives and sculpts in Los Angeles, California, and Bath, Maine, in homes filled with a lot of wax.

 

Vicki Banks
Cell: 818-720-0080
Email: vulturesculpture@yahoo.com