Paula Stern’s busts, groupings and figures echo her deep appreciation of structure and movement. Inspired by the beauty and complexity of human physiognomy, anatomy and relationships, she creates portraits of adults and children, often showing them in a sequence to chronicle human lives and family groups like chapters of a biography.
Stern’s compositions extend beyond pleasing the eye. Her work is animated through complex historical nuances and seeks to stimulate the mind, often with titles hinting at moods or emotions.
Stern has received commissions to do portrait busts from prominent business leaders, journalists, attorneys and government officials, including a U.S. federal court judge. In addition, she also explores her own subjects. She, of course, also has sculpted figures and busts of loved ones. Her work is in homes and gardens in Washington, D.C., other places in the U.S. and overseas. Her bronze bust of Nelson Mandela, commissioned by Pinewood Preparatory School in Summerville, SC, for example, is installed on campus at the school.
Several of Stern’s works have been prominently displayed in the U.S. Embassy and Residence in Nicosia, Cyprus as part of the U.S. State Department’s Art in the Embassies Program. Others have been showcased in well-known cultural centers, including her Othello and Desdemona in the lobby of the Shakespeare & Co Company Theater in Lenox, MA and her Let’s Dance, which is displayed permanently at the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival facility, a National Historic Site in Becket, MA.
Stern has been recognized with the “People’s Choice Award” by the Washington Project for the Arts/ Corcoran (WPAC) for her bronze Attitude (Female): it was selected for this award from 300 competing pieces. It also captured first prize at the juried All Media Art League Membership Show (with emphasis on sculpture) at the Torpedo Factory of Alexandria, VA.
Stern’s sculptures have been selected for dozens of juried shows. The Berkshire Museum selected three of her works for its 2018 show, Art of the Hills. Her Quartet was featured in Hillyer Art Space, Washington, DC in the July 2014 show, “Flesh & Bone”. At The Torpedo Factory, in Old Town Alexandria, VA, her works are regularly juried into the Member Galley of The Art League. She is also a permanent exhibiting artist within the prestigious Gallery 75 at the Art League. Her piece, Sunday Morning, was showcased at the 6th National Juried Competition at Gallery West in Alexandria, VA, where it was chosen from over 500 entries, and her bronze Paul received an award in the Washington Square Sculpture Show in September 2005 where she showed two other bronze figures. In 2004, at the same venue, she was invited to exhibit two bronzes, including Attitude (Female), which captured an award. In 2006, four of her pieces were chosen for exhibition at the same venue.
Stern’s work has also been exhibited at the Curator Gallery in Chelsea in New York City; St. Francis Gallery in Lee, MA, Southside Gallery, Oxford, MS; Walton Gallery, Petersberg, VA; Memphis Academy of Arts; Glen Echo Art Center in Glen Echo, MD. In the media, Stern has been profiled on WUSA9-TV and NBC4, and she has been featured in The Washington Post, Washington Business Journal, Washington Woman Magazine and other publications.
Stern models in clay and wax and casts in bronze and resin. She works in Washington, DC and Becket, MA
My art is the tangible manifestation of a deeply conscious effort to capture personality, corporal existence, and human vigor with my hands. I shape sculptures of the human form that my mind’s eye sees.—After completing a sculpture through this very private experience, I place it on a pedestal for the world to observe, daring to expose my personal effort to public viewing. As a sculptor, my purpose is to translate my visual image of a face, body or fragment of the human form into a tactile, beautiful object with which the viewer can interact. I want the viewer to touch, pick up and/or walk around my artwork. That action tells me I have impacted the viewer, thereby justifying the uncomfortable act of unveiling my art and personal side in public.—The spirit behind my work is to honor creation. When I sculpt the human face or form, I am changed unselfconsciously by the mystery and mastery of creation itself. I wish to honor the human face and form, not idealize it; for each face and body is unique, and the perfect object does not exist … for the creator or the viewer. This is why I particularly enjoy the challenge of sculpting portrait busts to capture a likeness of a person, as well as to chase the elusive goal of conveying “lifelike-ness” that expresses the essence of the individual.—By sculpting, I hope to leave artwork for future generations as enduring as the work of other sculptors throughout history whose paths I respectfully and admiringly follow.