May 4, 2022
The Intimacy of Craft and Creative Partnership with Wanderlust Ironworks
When artists collaborate, they bring to fruition an image, object, or idea that transcends individual ownership. Collaboration allows artists to put forth their most highly developed skills, combining and stretching them to create a new vision. Artists Simon and Autumn Saleh, a husband and wife duo working out of San Antonio, TX, founded Wanderlust Ironworks with precisely that focus. The studio produces public art works, functional and sculptural objects, working closely with other artists, clients, and at times the broader community to create meaningful and well-crafted pieces that suit their environment.
Founded in 2014, Wanderlust Ironworks combines modern technologies like CNC and plasma cutting with high-end craftsmanship in woodworking, metal, blacksmithing, cast plastics, glass, and other materials steeped in highly-developed, traditional processes. They offer an intimate creative environment, including on-site residence that allows artists to stay during the initial phase of development. Wanderlust offers turn-key installation as well as sculptural repair, serving the whole lifespan of a work of art. Their signature is a fine attention to material and craft, and the intimacy and fertility of close collaboration with their clients.
Current installation of the series “Bloom”, due for completion Summer 2022, has already begun to spread joy and inspiration across San Antonio. Local artist Leticia Huerta and Wanderlust Ironworks came together to create 17 over-sized “flowers” made from metal pieces resembling bicycle parts. In completion, the work will be distributed across seven local parks. These vibrant, playful objects reflect the native species of the area, as well as the local recreation scene and ecologically mindful transportation. They embody the reciprocal relationship between art, nature, and public space.
Selection of the featured flowers was informed by an extensive public art engagement process through the Department of Arts and Culture, giving the community stake and investment in the creative process. “Bloom” represents a convalescence of community values. The work and title demonstrates and “demands” growth… personally, collectively, and metaphorically. The colors and abstract forms invite curiosity, imagination, and play. There is a mix of the organic and industrial that bridges the city and the natural environment. Dwarfing viewers in size, these flowers act to remind people to value the small things, the intricacy of a flower on the side of the road, while putting us in place as small humans amid a vast nature, humbling our scale and impact. With whimsy and an emphasis on growth, these sculptures subtly assert beauty, responsibility, and a community mindset.
Other favorite Wanderlust works include the “Wings of Mexico”, a tricentennial gift from Mexico City and renowned artist Jorge Marín. These large, golden wings, symbolizing freedom, liberty, and divine protection, stand at the base of the Tower of the Americas. They invite residents and visitors to rise to the pedestal between them, becoming a part of the artwork through the experience and photographic residue. The initial collaboration between Marín and Wanderlust then carries a collaboration between audience and the environment.
In other instances, Wanderlust collaborations are more private, reflecting the personal nature of furniture objects which serve as sites of beauty in a home or residence, as well as comfort and security. Wanderlust’s furniture and lighting forms are works of art in themselves, serving the functional capacity that seamlessly integrates them into everyday life. Creativity and opportunity combines and amplifies, bringing life and meaning to the objects that mediate our relationship to everything that surrounds us.
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