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Fully formed: Santa Barbara artist crafts sculpture with found objects 

It can take three-dimensional artist Elisa Ortega Montilla of Santa Barbara several months to completely finish making a piece. The most time-consuming part? Finding the materials for her sculptures.

"I try to mix found objects with made sculpture," Montilla said.

click to enlarge MIX AND MATCH Santa Barbara artist Elisa Ortega Montilla uses both found and made objects in sculpture pieces like Remiendos . - IMAGES COURTESY OF ELISA ORTEGA MONTILLA
  • Images Courtesy Of Elisa Ortega Montilla
  • MIX AND MATCH Santa Barbara artist Elisa Ortega Montilla uses both found and made objects in sculpture pieces like Remiendos .

The artist estimates that 70 percent of her pieces are made up of found objects, while about 30 percent of materials are made in studio for a particular piece.

Montilla's artwork is currently on display as part of The 3rd Dimension art show, the annual sculpture exhibit put on by the Central Coast Sculptors Group at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art.

While art has always been a part of Montilla's life, it's only recently that art has been her full-time focus. For most of her life, Montilla was employed as a social worker, before going back to school to get her Master of Fine Arts degree at UC Santa Barbara several years ago.

But she grew up painting as a teenager and always felt a longing for the creative side of life. Her first career informed her second, and her art now takes inspiration from themes like social justice, feminism, responsibility, and equality.

Her piece on display at SLOMA, Remiendos, taps into these themes by using reclaimed materials in her abstract, contemporary piece.

"I've been looking to see where I belong in the legacy of women who came before me," said Montilla, who takes inspiration from other female artists. "It's a tribute to my personal past as well as to feminists who have come before me."

While others have detected a circus vibe in Remiendos from the colorful fabric and the juggling clubs, that wasn't Montilla's intention. However, she enjoys that viewers of her work put their own spin on her art, and she wants them to have a playful experience with it.

click to enlarge Details from Remiendos  by Elisa Ortega Montilla. - IMAGES COURTESY OF ELISA ORTEGA MONTILLA
  • Images Courtesy Of Elisa Ortega Montilla
  • Details from Remiendos by Elisa Ortega Montilla.

"I want to make art that people can relate to, so it's a little more jokey," Montilla said. "There's nothing specific relating to the circus, but I love that connection."

Remiendos in particular, took about three months for Montilla to finish creating. According to Montilla, the most painstaking part of her process is collecting all the found objects and producing multiple drafts of a particular piece of sculpture before she's completely happy with it.

"I just hope that they enjoy it," Montilla said about her art work. "For me, making art is about that intimate connection you have with someone you don't know. The goal for me is to make art that's democratic, that anyone can understand." Δ

Arts Writer Ryah Cooley is collecting this and that. Contact her at rcooley@newtimesslo.com.

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