Pierce County — A woman—in the throes of a tantrum—rips feathers from a pillow.
A man shields his face from the flash of a sudden memory.
Another woman grimaces at the result of a hair do created by a beloved child.
All the works of sculptor Tip Toland. She takes great pains to get things just right.
“I love detail. I get so excited by detail,” Toland said.
So much "detail" the art world calls Tip Toland a hyper-realist. Her works are meticulously accurate. Some sculptures may even have human hair. But each has something extra--always by design.
“In a lot of ways these are thinly veiled self-portraits,” said Toland. “So this is an aspect of myself. This is about unearthing parts of myself, but having different characters and stand ins. It's their bodies but it's really me I'm describing.
“That piece, Tantrum, is the response to the insanity that I think is going on right now. It's just never felt like more of an insane world.”
There is the instant reaction you might have coming face to face with these beings. But spend just a bit more time in their presence, and you may feel something else.
“She is able to tap into multiple layers of narrative and also emotion in her work,” says Jeffrey Kuiper of Traver Gallery. “How she does that is pure magic to me.”
Toland approaches each subject the way a novelist might, conjuring up a backstory, loving each character like a child.
“I have to love them or I won't make them well,” said Toland. “If I can't make them with a compassionate understanding of them I won't make them. I can't. I don't want to be that kind of person.”
You may be startled by how realistic sculptures look,but Tip Toland hopes the next step is to be struck by how much you feel.
“Yes, I completely believe in empathy and compassion and I always think the world could use a lot more of it. Definitely. Especially now.”
You can find Tip Toland’s most recent works at Traver Gallery in Seattle.